Prime Pennie Contractor Acquired by Accenture Federal Services

Accenture Federal Services has completed its acquisition of Cognosante, a Falls Church, Virginia-based provider of digital transformation and cloud modernization solutions for federal health, defense, intelligence, and civilian agencies. Accenture Federal Services announced its intent to acquire Cognosante on April 15, 2024. Cognosante is the prime contractor under the current enrollment assistance contract for the Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange (Pennie). Founded in 2008 by Michele Kang, Cognosante has grown rapidly and is providing technology solutions to federal government clients, including healthcare programs supporting veterans, active-duty military, patients, beneficiaries, providers, and payors. Through CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), Cognosante assisted with an Enrollment Assistance Program to ensure continuity of coverage for individuals and families impacted by the Medicaid Unwinding.

Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee Prepares to Vote on Senate-Passed Telemedicine Bill

The House Insurance Committee unanimously passed a telemedicine bill that passed the state Senate last month. Senate Bill 739 would require that health insurance policies cover medically necessary and otherwise covered healthcare services delivered through telemedicine. The bill was approved by the Senate by a 47-1 vote. The bill does allow telemedicine services to be provided by FQHCs. The bill now goes to the House for a vote. Since the bill was amended in the House Insurance Committee, it would need to go to the Senate for final approval.

Pennsylvania 2024 LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Unveiled

The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is collecting responses for the 2024 Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment. This survey is designed to better understand LGBTQ+ patients’ health and better understand the wellbeing and health care experiences of the community. The survey is available in English and Spanish. Please spread the word and share the survey with your networks.

Click here for the English survey.
Click here for the Spanish survey.

New Strategic Plan for Aging in Pennsylvania Launched: Aging Our Way, PA

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and the Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich unveiled a new blueprint for enhancing services targeted at the state’s elderly population. The plan, “Aging Our Way, PA,” is a ten-year strategic plan aimed to transform how state, regional, and local agencies work together to meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s fast-growing senior population and improve their quality of life.

Click here to learn more.

Pennsylvania Announces Medicaid Program Dental Fee Schedule Changes

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced updates to the Medical Assistance (MA) Program Fee Schedule based upon the 2024 Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) updates and based on clinical review. MAB 99-24-03 issued on May 28th can be reviewed in full on the Office of Medical Assistance Program website. See below for dental procedure codes that have been added.

  • D2991 – refers to the application of hydroxyapatite
  • D0190 – refers to screening of a patient
  • D0191 – refers to assessment of a patient

Click here to view the updates.

Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Aging: Creating Access to Care in Rural America

A recording of a May 2024 webinar describing how CAMC Greenbrier Valley Medical Center utilized telemedicine hubs to ensure access to care in rural West Virginia communities. The presentation discusses lessons learned, development of the program, and future plans. There’s also a panel discussion with telehealth, geriatric care, and rural health experts on improving healthcare delivery in rural areas. The Center for Excellence in Telehealth and Aging is a collaboration that includes the HRSA-supported Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center.

Preparing Behavioral Health Clinicians for Success and Retention in Rural Safety Net Practices

A study published by the Journal of Rural Health assesses how training in rural communities relates to confidence in skills important in their work settings, successes in jobs and communities, and anticipated retention.  Here, a summary of the study is provided by 3RNET, a national nonprofit that helps rural practices expand their reach for posting job vacancies.

CMS is Extending Medicaid Unwinding Data Reporting

 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued this letter to inform Medicaid agencies that CMS is extending current state reporting requirements for certain metrics contained in the Unwinding Data Report. Monthly state reporting about renewal actions occurring on or after July 1, 2024, and fair hearing requests that have been pending for more than 90 days, will continue on an ongoing basis.  CMS will continue reporting data publicly to maintain transparency into Medicaid and CHIP renewal outcomes at the national and state levels.  Medicaid is an important source of insurance coverage in rural areas.  The unwinding of the continuous Medicaid coverage provision has resulted in over 22 million enrollees being disenrolled as of May 23, 2024 and over 49 million have had their coverage renewed.

Rural/Urban Differences in Housing Quality and Adequacy Released: Findings From the American Housing Survey, 2019

Among the key findings in this policy brief from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center:

  • Rural housing units had higher rates of several specific housing quality issues, including heating problems, utility interruptions, missing roofing or external building materials, and broken windows.
  • Urban housing units had higher rates of flush toilet breakdowns, electric wiring problems, and indoor water leakage, compared to rural units.
  • The prevalence of signs of mice or rats inside homes in rural areas was approximately double that observed in urban clusters and urbanized areas.