HHS Releases Requirements For Web Portal For State Insurance OptionsGovernment Health IT reports: "The Health & Human Services Department released requirements for building a Web portal through which individuals and small businesses will be able to obtain information about affordable insurance coverage options in their state. Setting up the Web site and the creation of health insurance exchanges in all 50 states to facilitate browsing for information and purchasing health insurance was called for in the recently enacted health reform law. The portal will contain information on health coverage options from health insurance issuers, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), high risk pools created by the health reform law and coverage within the small group market for small businesses, HHS said in describing the project in an official 'interim final rule.' The Web portal is designed to work in concert with the prospective state health insurance exchanges. The portal must be available by July 1, according to the health reform law. The initial version will provide summary information about health insurance options geared toward individuals and small businesses, including types of services, provider networks, contact phone numbers and Web site links. In developing the online site, HHS said that it seeks to 'empower consumers by increasing informed choice and promoting market competition' by supply information that is easy for consumers to understand and navigate electronically" (Mosquera, 4/3).
In a separate article, Government Health IT reports: "Federal, state and local governments will spend more than $5 billion in health information technology and traditional IT by 2015 to comply with the requirements of the new healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis of the law by market research firm Input Inc. However, most of the requirements in the new law are unfunded and who will pay what and where the money will come from remains largely unclear, said Angie Petty, a senior analyst at Input. She said the health reform law funds only $1 billion to $2 billion of the health IT and IT requirements defined in the legislation. The expenditures go beyond the $20 billion earmarked for electronic health records, health information exchanges and other health IT solutions in the HITECH portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But they build on the earlier legislation by putting even greater emphasis on electronic health records and payment systems as critical to the success of health care reform, the firm said. According to Input's report, the legislation calls for $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to upgrade and modify Medicaid and Medicare systems and related systems to meet new requirements" (Hayes, 4/3). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.