Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Overdrive

States continue to move forward, build Affordable Insurance Exchanges

 Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced that California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Vermont have received new grants to help support the establishment of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an Exchange – a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.
“We continue to support states as they move forward building an Exchange that works for them,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Thanks to the health care law, Americans will have more health insurance choices and the ability to compare insurance plans.” Arkansas has been on the move with organizing meetings and plans on how to recruit and train hundreds of temporary workers to enroll uninsured Arkansans. According to the state's exchange planning manager Cynthia Crone the task of selecting partners and discovering the workforce will be the task of the Consumer Assistance Advisory Committee. Even as Mrs. Sebelius's announcement rolled out, local planning has outpaced other states as only Arkansas and Delware are engaging directly with the federal government to operate the exchanges. Enrollment in the programs is slated to begin October 2013 and some 572,000 residents are expected to be shopping the exchanges for affordable products regulated by the state Insurance Department. Local community based organizations will have an opportunity to bid on being apart of the training infrasturcture with workers being employed for about six months and paid about $12 an hour outlined by Crone.

The statement also cited that in every state, Exchanges will allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private health plans that meet their needs. Consumers will be able to learn if they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the Exchange. These competitive marketplaces make purchasing health insurance easier and more understandable and offer consumers and small businesses increased competition and choice.
Today’s awards will give states additional resources and flexibility to establish an Exchange. California, Hawaii, Iowa, and New York today have been awarded Level One Exchange Establishment grants, which provide one year of funding to states that have begun the process of building their Exchange. Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont were awarded Level Two Establishment grants, which are provided to states that are further along in building their Exchange and offers funding over multiple years.

Previously, 49 states, the District of Columbia and four territories received grants to begin planning their Exchanges. With today’s awardees, 34 states and the District of Columbia have also received Establishment grants to begin building their Exchanges.

On June 29, HHS announced a funding opportunity providing states with 10 additional opportunities to apply for funding to establish a state-based Exchange, state Partnership Exchange, or prepare state systems for a Federally-facilitated Exchange. States can apply for Exchange grants through the end of 2014, and may use funds during the initial start-up year. This schedule ensures that states have the support and time necessary to build an Exchange that best fits the needs of their residents.
A detailed breakdown of each grant award and what each state plans to do with its Exchange funding is available through the map tool on,
For more information on Exchanges, including fact sheets, visit

Local CBO Grows and HELP's Community

The Living Affected Corporation has undertaken a growing initiative under a new Community Gardens Project funded through a Argenta beautification grant received by Argenta Presbyterian Church. Since the group talks about "food" as a social determinant within our "Housing, Education, Food,Treatment, Employment "concept, we thought it ideal that perhaps we consider raising some food organically as a continuing symbol of sustaining one's self and developing a new skill set." said Chief Operating Officer Cornelius Mabin. He continued, " if the project scales up, we will need volunteers to come share their gardening experience and those who can help us make it a success." The group will be following the fall growing season with planting fresh greens such as swiss chard, carrots, beets, specialty lettuces such as mesculan and spinach. (J. Mclaughlin, picutred)  Plus any additional vegetables that could be grown in the raise boxes of the venture will be explored. If you are interested in sharing your "green thumb" expertise reach out to LA Corp at 379-8203. September 28 will mark the debut event from STRILITE, LA Corps affiliate group which will commemerate Gay Men's Awareness Day with this outreach acitivity. Local life skills entities such as Workforce Systems, CADC, Better Community Developers and other participants will be on hand for a "one stop" shop to also address the organizations "H.E.F.T. E." concept. Services will be offered free along with complimentary food and beverages. Volunteer opportunities sponsorships, contributions and supporters are still being sought to assist with this longistics and coordination. Contact info@lacorponline or call 855-STRIITE for additional details.

HHS Seeks Input on Streamlining HIV Data Collection, Reducing Reporting Burden for HIV Grantees

Therefore the this begs the questions of  just how many different data systems, indicators, and reporting requirements must recipients of federal HIV grant funds navigate? How much time does it take to comply with these reporting requirements and does the reported information result in tangible improvements in the quality of federally funded HIV prevention, care, and treatment services? How do grantees manage different HIV reporting requirements from various federal agencies, and, importantly, what do grantees have to say about the best ways to streamline HIV data collection and reduce reporting burden? HHS wants to know.
In a previous blog post, we discussed our work to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s call to streamline and standardize the collection, sharing, and processing of programmatic and fiscal data to simplify administration of HIV services grants.

Toward this aim, the Office of  HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) has launched Phase II of a multiphase project that will culminate in the development of HHS agency implementation plans for streamlining HIV data collection and reducing grantee reporting burden while preserving the capacity to monitor the quality of HIV services and report on program impact nationwide. By reducing undue reporting burden we believe that grantees will free-up capacity that can be devoted to the delivery of HIV services. But to be sure we take steps that meaningfully and measurably achieve our goals, we need to hear from those most affected by the current HIV grant reporting requirements.

To better understand these reporting requirements from grantees’ and sub-grantees’ perspectives, we have published a Request for Information (RFI) “Guidance on Data Streamlining and Reducing Undue Reporting Burden for HHS-funded HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care Services Grantees,” which invites respondents to share recommendations on such matters as:
  • How much time, resources, and personnel costs are required to meet federal HIV grants administration requirements?
  • Which requirements are most burdensome and which are most useful for program planning, monitoring, evaluation, or program improvements?
  • What specific changes in federal, state, local, or tribal government policies, improvements in public health infrastructure, or other modifications are needed to achieve an optimized balance between data streamlining, reporting burden, and outcome monitoring?
  • What specific policies and infrastructure are needed to standardize data requirements at the national, state, and local levels across federal programs supporting HIV/AIDS services?
  • What specific solutions have grantees, sub-grantees, or contractors implemented to manage the administration requirements for data collection, monitoring, and reporting?
  • Which required indicators and data elements can be eliminated without affecting adversely the capacity to monitor outcomes of HHS HIV services programs?
  • What extant HIV data reporting systems or approaches to data reporting are the most effective, efficient, and acceptable for grantees? What recommendations would you offer for facilitating both data reporting and data sharing between funders and grantees?
  • How best to measure our progress streamlining data collection and reducing reporting burden?
We appreciate that this is not a simple task and that it’s important to balance the need for information about how federal HIV funds are being used with an awareness that grantees do not have unlimited capacity to report on every potential HIV program item of interest. As such, we welcome your thoughts, perspectives and concerns about this important undertaking. Electronic responses to the RFI are preferred and may be emailed to by September 21, 2012. Readers should feel free to use the comments option on  Somebody do something about this tidal wave of paper drowning agencies before they can actually do the work that they are suppose to be doing. Let's stop the insanity now!!!


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