Friday, July 2, 2010

High Risk Pool In Place, Public Health Efforts Launched

On July 1, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services announced the implementation of “a new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that will offer coverage to uninsured Americans who have been unable to obtain health coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. The PCIP is a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which established a temporary high risk insurance pool program for individuals who have been uninsured for six months or who have been denied health insurance coverage because they have preexisting conditions.

States, many of which have their own high-risk pools, have the option of running a PCIP themselves or having HHS run the plan. Starting on July 1, the national PCIP opened up to applicants in these 21 states where HHS is operating the program: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. The remaining 29 states, which are operating their own PCIP, will begin enrollment by the end of the summer, with many beginning enrollment on July 6.

HHS set up a consumer Website linking individuals directly to the federal application page for residents of states where the HHS is running the PCIP, and providing information on how and where to apply for residents of states with their own PCIP.

Also on July 1, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council submitted its first status report to Congress. The Affordable Care Act provided for the creation of the Council and mandated the development of a National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. This strategy is to take a community health approach to prevention and wellness and identify and prioritize actions across many sectors to reduce the incidence and burden of the leading causes of death and disability.

The Council Chair is the U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin; council members include Cabinet Secretaries, chairs, directors, or administrators of federal departments. The members’ organizations will be involved in developing and implementing disease prevention and health promotion and wellness programs within their jurisdictions.

The Affordable Care Act requires that the Strategy establish actions within and across federal departments and agencies relating to prevention, health promotion, and public health according to science-based prevention recommendations and guidelines. The Council identified the following guiding principles:
1. Prioritize prevention and wellness and high impact interventions.
2. Establish a cohesive federal response.
3. Focus on preventing the leading causes of death, and the factors that underlie these causes.
4. Promote high-value preventive care practices, health equity, and alignment between the public and private sectors.
5. Ensure accountability.

The Council’s 2010 Annual Status Report outlines the preliminary work carried out from March to June 2010, including an overview of the Strategy development process, proposed guiding principles, plans to convene the Advisory Group, a work plan and timeline, and a list of Council activities to date, including the preparation of the Annual Report to Congress.

Preliminary analysis includes a review of data on the leading and underlying causes of death, and identify and conducting a preliminary review of existing national prevention plans and strategies (U.S. and international. The Council’s Annual Report also presents guiding principles, data on the leading and underlying causes of death, examples of current federal programs, and brief descriptions of types of interventions that will form the basis of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.

Thus, implementation of the various health reform provisions continues apace.


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