House Includes NATIONWIDE Supper in Child Reauthorization Bill!
In a vote last Thursday, July 15, the House of Representatives included the expansion of the Afterschool Meals Program to all 50 states in the version of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. This brings us one step closer to bringing the Suppers to the state of Florida! This is a milestone and thanks to our partners and supporters.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2010
Release Information CB10-CN.67 Contact: Public Information Office 301-763-3691
Census Bureau Director Reports 2010 Census on Schedule, Under Budget
Census Moves into Quality Assurance Operations to Help Ensure Complete, Accurate Count
As census takers across the nation finish the 2010 Census door-to-door follow-up operation, the U.S. Census Bureau has entered the quality assurance phase, where select households around the country will be contacted by a census worker. Three major operations occur this summer that mark the peak of efforts to ensure data accuracy.
The 2010 Census is on schedule and significantly under budget but not fully completed. The Census Bureau systematically re-interviews 5 percent of the households that each census worker visits to confirm that all of the 600,000 census takers followed training protocols and produced accurate data.
“We thank the American public for their participation in our door-to-door follow-up phase and for their continued patience as we enter the next vital stage of the 2010 Census,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “We ask that if you are one of the few homes re-interviewed, called or visited this summer during our quality assurance operations, please take a few minutes to help us ensure that the 2010 Census is complete and accurate.”
Groves expressed confidence that census takers are doing a quality job, and he reaffirmed that the current process enables the Census Bureau to catch any errors or corner-cutting and initiate immediate corrections.
In the coverage follow-up operation, the Census Bureau calls households to eliminate confusion about the number of people reported in a household to make certain there are no missing or double-counted individuals. As the nation experiences one of the highest vacancy rates in recent years, the vacant/delete check operation requires census workers to visit households that were listed as vacant on April 1 (Census Day) to double-check that no individual has been left out. The field verification operation verifies the location of addresses provided by Be Counted forms or through telephone interviews to ensure everyone is counted in the correct location.
“Decades of census taking have taught us the importance of the quality assurance phase, and we know crucial federal funding and congressional apportionment relies heavily on our ability to produce an accurate census count,” Groves said. “That is why these quality assurance operations — inspired by our mantra to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place — are critical to our country’s future.”
ABOUT THE 2010 CENSUS
The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.
Editor’s note: News releases, reports and data tables are available on the Census Bureau’s home page. Go to <http://www.census.gov> and click on “Releases.”
News Release: Census Bureau Director Reports 2010 Census on Schedule, Under Budget
Operational Press Briefing: Press Kit:
Source: Venghan (Winnie) Tang, Partnership Specialist Team Leader
US Census Bureau – Atlanta Regional Census Center
$1B for FL Medicaid in Jeopardy
Source: Jim Saunders 6/17/2010 © Health News Florida
Extra Medicaid funding worth $1 billion to Florida is in jeopardy following a defeat in the U.S. Senate Wednesday on a procedural vote of 52 to 45, with all Republicans and 12 Democrats in opposition. The vote was also a setback for an extension of some unemployment benefits and the so-called “doc fix,” which would prevent sharp cuts in Medicare physician pay.
But the anger of physicians and the angst of many states led Democratic leaders to come out late Wednesday with a scaled-back version of the measure. They predicted it would pass, according to the Associated Press, but the anti-deficit mood in the Senate left the bill’s status uncertain.
Politico reports that the Senate could make a decision as soon as this week — important to Florida, since the fiscal year begins July 1.
Florida legislative and health-industry officials have been watching the Senate debate closely, after the U.S. House left the increased Medicaid funding out of its version of the bill. The extra Medicaid funding would go toward hospitals, nursing homes and cancer research.
A federal economic-stimulus plan passed last year provided the higher matching rate through Dec. 31, 2010, but extending it through June 30, 2011, would give about $1 billion in additional money to Florida.
“If the delegation from Florida doesn’t have the power to do it, maybe they (voters) ought to elect some new Congressmen,” said state Sen. Durell Peaden, a Crestview Republican who is chairman of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.
Tony Marshall, an official with the Florida Health Care Association who closely monitors Medicaid funding for nursing homes, said he is hearing “very mixed signals, because everybody wants to do it, but because of the cost, they’re having a hard time in the Senate getting it done.”
Florida lawmakers did not bank on the increased matching money as part of their core budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. But they included contingency language about how the money would be used if Florida receives its share.
Among the highest-profile issues in limbo: about $50 million in additional money for financially troubled Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Also, lawmakers set aside about $20 million of the potential money for cancer research.
Paul Belcher, a senior vice president for the Florida Hospital Association, said the extension could mean an additional $344 million for hospitals and other health-care programs.
Lawmakers expected to use about $57 million to help offset Medicaid nursing-home rate cuts. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed those rate cuts, so the federal money is not as critical to nursing homes as it might have been. But Marshall said receiving the federal money would allow savings in state tax dollars that would otherwise have to go to nursing homes.
They also planned to use part of the Medicaid money to help bolster the state’s budget reserves. Peaden said receiving the additional federal money is particularly important because the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico likely will reduce sales-tax and property-tax collections — making Florida’s budget problems worse in the future.
“We’re going to have some bad times,” Peaden said.
–Capital Bureau Chief Jim Saunders can be reached at 850-228-0963 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
THE NEXT STAGE OF HEALTH CARE REFORM: How Florida can strengthen and improve the federal law
The new federal health care reform law puts state leaders in the driver’s seat, according to a new report by consumer advocacy group Florida PIRG (The Florida Public Interest Research Group).
Delivering on the Promise shows how state policy makers can implement and improve on the law to ensure it offers the best deal to consumers.
“The new law gives states the tools – and funding – they need to make fundamental improvements in health care,” said Brad Ashwell, Advocate with Florida PIRG. “Now, whether Floridians actually see lower costs, higher quality, and more stable coverage is up to our leaders in Tallahassee.”
Among the central opportunities is the law’s call for each state to create and run an “exchange” – a health insurance purchasing pool for individuals and small businesses. The report lays out key recommendations to make the exchange a powerful force for consumers:
- It should offer a powerful, easy-to-use set of tools that put consumers in charge of their coverage, including clear comparisons between plans and quality and cost ratings, that ensure there is a range of clear, distinct choices, rather than an endless array of confusing products.
- The exchange can improve care quality and lower costs by encouraging insurers to adopt reforms that deliver better care for consumers. It should also be able to actively negotiate with plans on behalf of consumers and stop excessive premium hikes.
· States must ensure that the exchange’s governance is transparent, accountable, and responsive to consumers’ interests, not those of the insurance industry.
“The exchange can be a real game-changer, giving individual consumers and small businesses the equivalent of a large employer’s human resources department negotiating rates for them. And by providing clear information and easy-to-use comparisons on insurance plans, it will promote competition,” said Ashwell. “But if state policymakers miss the boat, it won’t be much more than an Expedia page for health insurance.”
The new law also offers grant funding to help states adopt important reforms to:
· Encourage high-quality, low-cost treatment by investing in primary care, programs to prevent chronic diseases from turning acute, and reforms to improve coordination of care when many doctors treat the same patient.
· Set up programs to review premium increases before they go into effect, protecting consumers from unjustified rate hikes and informing them about where their dollars are going.
· Create temporary purchasing pools for consumers with pre-existing conditions who otherwise could not get coverage.
“There are billions of dollars of grant funds available to support stronger consumer protections and invest in innovative approaches to care. Florida should be in the lead in taking advantage of these federal dollars,” continued Ashwell.
State leaders also have the chance to improve on the achievements of the federal law. The report outlines approaches that can save money and improve care, such as streamlining administrative paperwork, limiting abusive pharmaceutical company marketing practices, and investing in ground-breaking health IT systems to give doctors more powerful tools. And while the federal law ultimately did not include a public health insurance option, states have the ability to create one to serve their own residents.
“The bottom line is that our own policymakers and advocates need to step up and lead if Florida is going to see relief from the rising cost of health care,” concluded Ashwell. “D.C. had its turn in the sun – now it’s Florida’s time to shine.”
The report is available online by clicking here.
Source: Brad Ashwell, Florida PIRG 850.294.1008 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org