The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced they have awarded more than $48 million to 271 health centers across 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to expand HIV prevention and treatment. The funding will support testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) related services, outreach, and care coordination.
The new spending is part of an HHS program called Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. The agency says the program could reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States 90% by 2030. The latest funding will expand HIV prevention services that decrease the risk of HIV transmission in counties, territories, and states that are seeing substantial HIV diagnosis.
Through this initiative, HRSA-funded health centers have already provided some 2.5 million HIV tests to patients. Of those who tested positive for the first time, more than 81% were successfully linked to treatment within 30 days. Nearly 190,000 patients living with HIV received medical care services at health centers, and over 389,000 patients received PrEP-associated services, HHS said.
RECORD ENROLLMENT, EXPANSION FOR GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE MARKETPLACE
A new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that an additional 2.8 million people gained access to healthcare insurance through the Biden administration’s 2021 special enrollment period on HealthCare.gov and state-based marketplaces. This brings the total number of people in the U.S. enrolled through these programs to a record-breaking 12.2 million. Medicaid enrollment is also growing rapidly: More than 82.3 million people now use Medicaid.
According to HHS analysis, the expanded premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan reduced premiums, increased savings, and provided consumers greater access. For example, more than 90% of consumers who enrolled during the special enrollment period saw their premiums reduced, and 48% of new HealthCare.gov consumers received a monthly premium of $10 or less after the law’s tax credits. Likewise, since February 2020, the month before the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared, enrollment in Medicaid and related programs increased by more than 11.6 million, or 16.4%.
The administration is working on new ways to keep these programs growing. Beginning this year, consumers will have an extra 30 days to review and choose health plans on the government website, from November 1, 2021, through January 15, 2022. CMS is also expanding its marketplace navigators program, with experts who help consumers understand their choices and enroll.
FEDS FINE HOSPITALS THAT DON’T GIVE PATIENTS QUICK ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues its crackdown on healthcare providers that won’t give patients their healthcare records in a timely manner, with the agency’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announcing the resolution of its twentieth investigation in its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative this year.
Children's Hospital & Medical Center (CHMC) in Omaha, Nebraska is the latest organization in OCR’s crosshairs. The hospital has agreed to take corrective actions and pay $80,000 to settle “a potential violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule's right of access standard.”
The case is from May 2020, when a parent filed a complaint with OCR alleging that the hospital had failed to provide her with timely access to her minor daughter's records. The hospital provided some records but did not provide all of the records the parent requested.
The HIPAA right of access standard requires a covered entity, such as a hospital or independent laboratory, to act on a patient’s access request within 30 days of receipt (or within 60 days if an extension is applicable).
In addition to the monetary settlement, CHMC will undertake a corrective action plan that includes 1 year of monitoring.