June 3rd, 2011 | View Archive
AMA SAYS ACO'S KEEP OUT SMALL DOC GROUPS
The American Medical Association has weighed in on current antitrust provisions in ACO regulations. Citing that 78 percent of doctors practice in groups with nine or fewer physicians, the AMA believes that these doctors would ultimately be prohibited from contracting with insurance companies to participate in ACOs.
MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS EXPECTED TO HIT GOP STATES HARDEST
The House Republican budget plan passed in April aims to give states greater control over Medicaid.
However, analysis of the bill shows conservative states receiving 20 to 30 percent less in estimated federal Medicaid funding over the next 10 years. By tying Medicaid spending to a formula that pays states on a per capita basis, states already covering more people in Medicaid voluntarily, usually more liberal states, will be able to lock in their expanded population.
Other big Republican states that stand to lose more than 30 percent of Medicaid funds under the House budget include Texas, Alabama, Utah, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
States facing the least drop in federal Medicaid funds under block grants include Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. Arizona is slated to actually gain 1.3 percent in Medicaid funds, partly because the state already covers childless adults under a waiver program.
Reduced funding will not automatically kick people off the Medicaid roll but is expected to encourage states to come up with cost-efficient and cost-effective care for Medicaid patients.
NSF RESTORES POLICY ON TEACHING ACTIVITIES OF GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWS
In response to concerns raised by the academic and scientific community, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has reinstated its previous policy to allow teaching activities during a research fellows three-year fellowship. The reinstated policy allows graduate research fellows to participate in activities such as teaching that compliment their own educational objectives. The policy will go into effect for the 2011-2012 fellowship year and is an updated version of the one described in the 2009 Guide (NSF 09-62), which is as follows:
"Each Fellow is expected to devote full time to advanced scientific study or work during tenure. However, because it is generally accepted that teaching or similar activity constitutes a valuable part of the education and training of many graduate students, a Fellow may undertake a reasonable amount of such activities, without NSF approval. It is expected that furtherance of the Fellow's educational objectives and the gain of substantive teaching or other experience, not service to the institution as such, will govern these activities. Compensation for such activities is permitted based on the affiliated institution's policies and the general employment policies outlined in this document."
Additional information, including the updated 2011 policy guide, is available here: www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=6201
DEBT CEILING INCREASE FAILS
On Tuesday, May 31, House Republicans dealt defeat to their own proposal for a $2.4 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit, a political move designed to reinforce a demand for a reduction in spending to accompany any increase in the debt ceiling. The final vote had just 97 in favor of the increase and 318 against.
Despite new urgency from top congressional leaders that the debt ceiling dispute should be resolved quickly, Congressional leaders remain deeply divided over how to do it. Most agreed that curbing the nation's deficit and reducing spending is important, but major roadblocks stand in the way of an agreement, particularly with the issue of taxes and Medicare.
As the August 2 deadline quickly approaches, many leaders are only cautiously optimistic that a deal can be reached before the nation defaults. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned Congress that a failure to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by that date could result in the U.S. defaulting on some of its borrowing obligations and risk a financial catastrophe.
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