28 States Awarded Insurance Exchange Grants

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded insurance-exchange establishment grants to 28 states, and several states have applied for grants that are expected to be awarded in February, according to a new report detailing how states are establishing the exchanges.

According to the report, which summarizes actions taken by 10 states to establish health insurance exchanges, officials in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Alaska and Wyoming are likely to pursue insurance exchanges in 2012.

HHS has awarded $729.5 million in planning grants, establishment grants, and innovator grants, according to the report. The agency said it is continuing efforts to develop a federal exchange for states that do not choose to create their own exchanges and will issue guidance in the coming months.

Six Providers Seek ACO Accreditation From NCQA

Washington, DC—Six provider-based entities are the first aspiring accountable care organizations (ACOs) to seek accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) under the ACO Accreditation program NCQA launched in November. The six early adopters are:  
Billings Clinic, Billings, MT  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA • Crystal Run Healthcare, Middletown, NY • Essentia Health, Duluth, MN • HealthPartners, Minneapolis, MN • Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Houston, TX
The early–adopter designation means these organizations have committed to undergoing a full NCQA survey of their ACO capabilities between March 1 and December 31, 2012.  Benefits of being an early adopter include independent assessment of an organization’s readiness to be an ACO. Organizations that earn accreditation may have extra credibility and first-mover advantages in their local markets. Being an early adopter of ACO accreditation may also help an organization become eligible to participate in demonstration projects or pilot programs that public and private health plans sponsor.  “I applaud these organizations for having the courage to go first and measure themselves against objective, balanced standards of ACO readiness,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Volunteering for this evaluation is the first step to showing payers and providers how well they can do the things ACOs are expected to do.” ?