GovWin
 
 
An overview of MITA 3.0

A lot has changed in the Medicaid program since 1965. In the last few years alone, several legislative initiatives have changed the direction and policies of the Medicaid community, including (but not limited to): the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Besides changing policies, most states are burdened by legacy Medicaid management information systems (MMIS), struggling to keep up with recent mandates to integrate with health insurance exchanges (HIX) and health information exchanges (HIE).

 

Luckily for states and vendors, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the long-awaited draft of the Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) 3.0 document in early November 2011. The MITA initiative was first introduced back in March 2006 with the goal of establishing national guidelines for processes and technologies to improve state administration of Medicaid programs. MITA had several objectives in mind, including:

  • Develop integrated systems with seamless communication to achieve Medicaid goals through interoperability and common standards.
  • Promote flexibility, adaptability, and shorten response time to program and technology changes.
  • Promote an enterprise view that supports technologies aligned with Medicaid business processes and technologies.
  • Provide data that is accurate, timely, and easily accessible to support business analysis and decision-making for program administration and effective health care management.
  • Coordination with public health partners.
  • Provide performance measurement for accountability and planning.

These goals should not be new to those in the health care industry. Boiled down, the ideals can be found in several of the newer policies mandated by the federal government. CMS is looking for states to adopt data and industry standards for the promotion of reusable components and modularity. MITA aims to provide a beneficiary-centric focus, supported by interoperable and open architecture. Secure data exchange is vital for the integration of clinical and administrative data, especially with the interchange between Medicaid systems, HIXs, HIEs, and integrated eligibility systems. Parallel to the human services community, MITA also looks to break down those often-discussed “artificial boundaries” between systems, geography, and funding.

 

Deltek has tracked several state procurements surrounding the MITA initiative, specifically MITA SS-A. With the passage of the HITECH Act, several states incorporated MITA planning into their Medicaid health information technology (HIT) plan. Vendors need to embrace MITA and every future version that follows as roadmaps are updated to adopt new and improved guidelines. Software solution vendors in the health care and human services space will need to incorporate MITA standards and ideals into their products if they intend to win government business now and in the future.

 

Deltek subscribers should look here for an upcoming analyst perspective diving deeper into the MITA 3.0 topic.

 

Follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIn.

 

An exciting day for 13 states: HHS annouces more funding to assist in insurance exchange efforts

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded roughly $220 million in health insurance exchange funding to 13 states: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Vermont. These grants will be used to further state efforts in establishing the one-stop insurance shops. The department also released a series of answers to frequently asked questions states should be aware of when setting up these novel systems. The document covers topics such as what type of funding will be available to assist states in establishing the exchanges under the varying options (state, partnership, or federally-run), costs of the exchange, eligibility determination, risk adjustment, data collection, quality certification requirements, and much more.
 
According to the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), today’s award brings the number of states making significant progress in creating the exchanges to 29. Moreover, in response to the stringent timelines and state legislative sessions, HHS announced a six-month extension of the Level 1 Establishment Grant. Applications will now be due on June 29, 2012, instead of December 30, 2011. Here’s a quick run-down of today’s awards:
 
Analyst’s Take:
 
Today’s grant release and announcement of the extension on the Level 1 Establishment Grant further proves just how supportive the feds are to states setting up these exchanges. It is clear that with the looming 2014 deadline, states do not have time to twiddle their thumbs. More money will continue to be pumped down from the feds to ensure the insurance exchange mandate is achievable. For that, vendors can expect states to continually request support in planning and analysis.
 
For more information on insurance exchanges, be sure to check out Deltek’s Analyst Recap of the inaugural Health Insurance Exchange Congress event held earlier this month. Follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIn.

 

 

Vision for health insurance exchange design gets a little clearer

The inaugural Health Insurance Exchange Congress conference, hosted by the Institute for International Research (IIR) USA on November 9-11, 2011 offered considerable insight on the roles and functionality insurance exchange systems should provide to consumers. Anita Murcko, MD, and partner with Cambiare, LLC, identified three fundamental components of exchanges: a portal/website, an enrollment interface, and health plans. During her presentation, she also noted the importance of continuing to strive for meaningful use, and said insurance exchanges should be able to swap data with health information exchanges – this is a key reason why there must be an element of standardization with these various health IT systems.
 
Sarah Thomas, vice president of public policy and communications for NCQA, gave a presentation titled “Create a System for Health Plan Certification,” which described exchanges as opportunities to drive a “value agenda” that includes:
  • Choice architecture – nudging consumers toward best value options by paying attention to how consumers behave
  • Benefit design – fostering value-based designs that steer people to better options by integrating patient-activation tools
  • Network design – seeing quality and cost measures for tiering
  • Market makers – facilitating health plans as change agents supporting (with data) and driving (with payment) improvements in care delivery
According to NCQA, the projected 2019 exchange population is relatively older, less educated, has lower income, and is more racially diverse than the current privately-insured population. For that, Thomas stressed the need for quality measures for the exchanges, what she calls a “national starter set.” She believes that the same quality standards should be used nationwide and that the first set of measures should be feasible and enhanced over time. Moreover, these measures should ultimately align with national health improvement goals, Medicaid, Medicare and commercial strategies. Thomas reiterated the importance of setting quality measures by stating the need for auditing to ensure reliability and validity of results, which may require surveying to gather patient experience. As a result, vendors can count on opportunities such as quality assurance (QA) and independent verification and validation (IV&V) to come down the pipeline of these exchanges. States will be looking for proven results and evidence that the consumer experience with the portals is a positive one.

Will Kenderdine, eCommerce consultant for JPMorgan Chase, offered great advice on website design for the exchanges during his presentation, “Identify Consumer Behavior when Online Shopping: Lessons Learned from Out-of-Industry Online ‘Exchanges.’” He began by saying, “Know where you’re going before you get on the train,” while showing an image of a train in motion with hundreds of people holding on for dear life. The meaning is that when designing the website for the portals, it is vital to define what it is you really want to accomplish. Kenderdine emphasized the importance of performing extensive research and determining state demographics. It is important to build with purpose from the start in order to prevent future headaches and minimize expenses. Kenderdine believes that website design extends to all industries and the simpler, the better. In the end, it is not about how “pretty” the website is, it is the functionality and level of usability that truly matters. The site must be one that is robust enough to handle all service levels.
 
Having true access to customer service is another important factor to consider when designing these exchanges. Kenderdine suggested putting the contact information in the upper right; that way, consumers do not have to struggle to “find an answer online.” Websites often have built-in site search engines; however, users are typically disappointed with the lack of “Google-like” functionality.
 
Vendors need to keep all these elements in mind when designing websites and portals for states. Furthermore, it goes without saying that there is still an extreme amount of work to be done for states and vendors to make the 2014 deadline for the insurance exchanges.
 
Be sure to download a complete recap of this year’s Health Insurance Exchange Congress Conference here!
 
Follow Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS, or connect with us through LinkedIn.

 

 

All-Payer Claims Databases

Since November 2009, the health care market has seen change at a pace so dramatic and dizzying, it verges on unpredictable. However, one change that GovWin predicted early was the rise of the all-payer claims database (APCD) across all fifty states. In 2009, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and again in 2010, GovWin published these predictions. It will become clear in this in-depth analysis that the implementation of APCDs will continue as predicted over the next several years. The APCD is an integral tool for the achievement of true health care reform, especially in light of current and projected state budgetary deficits; increases in state Medicaid enrollment and spending; the implementation of health insurance exchanges; and the push for efficient, data-driven, outcome-based care.

From whence we came: A look back at APCD 1.0
In 2009, when we wrote our first piece on the APCD, only six states had an APCD in place. Today, the number has doubled to 12 states, with four actively implementing an APCD. Over those two years, we have seen state legislatures, policymakers, consumers, providers, and bureaucrats explore and implement an APCD. The increased transparency the database allows attracted them, and the promise for a deeper understanding of the drivers of health care spending across programs and providers further enticed them. Ultimately, the stakeholders in the 31 states that have deployed, or are seriously considering the deployment of an APCD, have been convinced by the promise for access to data to drive cost containment and increase efficiencies. 
This is not to say that there are not legitimate, substantive concerns and roadblocks facing APCDs. Issues such as patient and consumer privacy, information security, and finding the funding for planning and implementation, not to mention the $1 million annual funding necessary to operate the database, have all been raised. Further, there are concerns about the practical complexity involved with the implementation of a database pulling data sets from many disparate sources. Finally, perhaps the most consistent obstacle is the political will required to mandate the data collection necessary to operate the database. In all but two states with active APCDs (Washington and Wisconsin), the legislatures enacted laws to mandate private health plan (including medical, dental, pharmacy) data be reported. In an anonymous, en-masse fashion, the data reported fills gaps in cost information previously only gathered from providers, facilities and state-run assistance programs. The concern for patient privacy and funding, combined with the often arduous legislative process, has led to fits and starts in states with legislation defeated or stalled in long-study processes. Without the mandated data collection for all insurers, providers, facilities, and government agencies, the data collected will inevitably be incomplete.
Figure 1 below provides a graphic representation of the current, though fluid, procurement landscape. The states shaded red have either contracted with vendors for technical infrastructure and support and/or have an operational APCD. States shaded gold have released a solicitation or plan to release a solicitation for implementation of and/or planning for an APCD. The blue states have active discussions at various levels of government and the stakeholder community, but no solid direction or legislation to signal procurements will occur. Finally, the states shaded gray have not publicly engaged in significant discussion about the development of an APCD
Subscribers have access to expanded data and analysis on state plans to develop APCD, here.
Source: Deltek's GovWinIQ Database, state legislative and health care department websites, Massachusetts Health Data Consortium, and the APCD Council, a collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and NAHDO.
 
APCD 2.0: opportunity abounding
A cursory glance at the map above yields the impression that a lot of states have yet to do anything concrete with the APCD. Indeed, the vast majority of states have yet to release an RFP or outline specific plans to implement the database. So, you might be wondering, how can we conclude that there is a rise of the APCD, or that it will continue? The question is easily answered by the following three words: math, feds, and outcomes. Sentence explaining what math, feds, and outcomes are.
The remainder of this section is subscriber only content. Subscribers have access to expanded analysis on upcoming opportunities, detailed data, and a case study on APCD’s, here.     
Conclusions and recommendations
Next steps for vendors:
-          Monitor GovWinIQ for updated information on state APCD efforts. As state plans begin to take shape, our expert team will add opportunities and update records in our database.
-          Get involved. Many state agencies, private companies, and nonprofit groups within states are discussing the implementation of APCDs. With the legislation requirement, a vocal push for policy change has to come from all sectors of the health care market.
-          Get more technical information. The APCD Council is a great resource for vendors. The council’s website includes vendors already involved in the market, information on technical components necessary for an APCD, and various other APCD-related information.
GovWin has been talking about the rise of the APCD for two years now, but at no time is it more true or exciting than right now. The federal mandates, increased cost of health care, increased enrollment in Medicaid, development of health insurance exchanges and health information exchanges, and a general desire to make health care delivery better for all people have combined to make this the moment of the APCD.

Subscribers have access to expanded analysis, data, and the full article, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Wayne bidding process met with controversy

Proposals were received from several agencies in response to Fort Wayne, Indiana’s solicitation for a new emergency communications system for its police, fire, and paramedics agencies. After the bidding process was complete, Motorola was found to have submitted the only complete bid for the system.

 

The city of Fort Wayne along with Allen County encompass the Multi-Agency Communications Partnership (MACP) responsible for releasing the request for proposals (RFP) that has created backlash from participating vendors, most notably Raytheon.

 

Raytheon Network Centric Systems submitted a letter on October 26 claiming Fort Wayne’s bidding process was unfair, not subject to competition, and that the specifications were biased and catered toward Motorola. The core of the argument comes from the need for compatibility between the requested P25 radio system and the current SmartNet system provided by Motorola. The county’s SmartNet system is an 800MHz trunked radio system used by all public service entities. The specifications for the new radio system required interoperability and full integration with the existing Motorola SmartNet system, but the city stated it is willing to consider other solutions.

 

Others have joined Raytheon in voicing their concern about the unfair bidding process and are arguing that because specifications are company-specific, they will cost taxpayers millions of unnecessary dollars. The city estimates the project could cost up to $24 million, but a representative from RELM Wireless Corporation, another bidder on the project, said the city could save between $2.8 million and $6.3 million by considering another solution.

 

This story is not so unfamiliar. Earlier in 2011, Raytheon and Motorola were at odds when Raytheon was selected for a $700 million contract to build out the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS). During negotiations with Raytheon, Motorola issued a protest against the award and claimed the county had distributed proprietary information, which caused the project to ultimately be rebid.

 

Analyst’s Take

 

It is not uncommon for procurement practices to be challenged, especially with $24 million on the line. In the case of Fort Wayne, the city could be searching for its own ways to save money. By integrating the new radio system with the current SmartNet system, although seemingly biased, the city avoids having to replace the county’s entire communications system. Although this project is much smaller in scope than LA-RICS, Motorola and Raytheon once again prove to be the front runners for communications system contracts. 

 

It is important for vendors to make sure they address their proposals in such a way to meet a city, county or state’s current needs. Vendors should always be aware of existing systems and technologies and propose a viable solution to work with those components, or structure their proposals to offer something better. Vendors should also familiarize themselves with different protest rules and regulations in case bidding procedures are challenged. In addition, vendors should learn how to appeal an award in the event the resulting contract is protested.

 

 

 

 

 

Justice, Public Safety, and Homeland Security: Budget and Future IT Business Opportunity Correlation

Previously, GovWin illustrated how state budget efficiency can be used as a metric for future budget increases or decreases. While those articles focused on state all-funds budget efficiency, this article focuses instead on justice and public safety (JPS) and homeland security (HS) budgets. The analysis outlined below offers insight into state spending trends, including how budgets and efficiency affect the number and value of available IT opportunities a particular state may have. For the business community, such analysis bears utility as a tool to determine states of future business focus.

As outlined in previous articles (here, here, and here), there are two prevailing lines of logic regarding budget efficiency. Efficiency or inefficiency may directly correlate with future budgets (i.e., efficient states may look to continue efficiency). For other states, the correlations may reverse, in that efficiency may negatively correlate to future budgets (i.e., efficient states may have room to grow future budgets due to current fiscal health). So, while a universal line of reasoning does not apply for all states (understanding this variance as the norm for most business in the state and local space), certain patterns and trends emerge when examining specific state budget verticals.

In particular, GovWin analysis indicates a strong, direct, positive correlation between overall state JPS & HS budgets and both the number and value of state government IT-related contracting opportunities. In fact, these correlations are stronger than those in GovWin’s previous article on health care and social services efficiency, here. This means that as current FY JPS & HS state budgets increase, both the number and value of available state government IT-related contracting opportunities also increase. So, states with higher JPS & HS efficiency (more efficient) have a lower number and value of currently listed JPS & HS IT-focused contracting opportunities. To the contrary, states with lower current efficiency (less efficient) have a higher number and value of currently listed IT-focused opportunities (see table 1, below for data – subscribers have access to full data set, here). For the business community, this makes sense; more money in the budget equals more government business opportunities.

For an illustrative example of this correlation, in table 1, below, far right column, the averages for GovWin opportunity numbers are generally higher for less efficient states (overall budget).  

Table 1: Justice, Public Safety, and Homeland Security Budget Efficiency and IT Opportunity Correlation

Subscribers have access to the full table,
here
.
Click on table above for full-sized version.

Subscribers have access to in-depth, expanded analysis here, including multi-year projections, IT budgets, and related state spending.

Analyst’s Take

Vendors can easily leverage the powerful GovWin state budget data for JPS & HS IT business development and planning with state governments. In Q1, GovWin will initiate its annual state budget project. Then, from January through April, GovWin will publish the state budget data and related analysis. Importantly, this data will include all budgets for FY 2013 and FY 2014 for some states. For states with increasing JPS & HS budgets in FY 2013 or 2014, look for the associated number and value of related business opportunities to also rise in those years. Look for the opposite with states with shrinking JPS & HS budgets. In terms of further projection, vendors can use FY projections to plan for opportunity expansion or contraction up to two years out.

Beyond business development and strategic planning, sales can use this data for immediate benefit. IT is focused on efficiency. All states want to do more with less. Already efficient states will understand this and will be more interested in improving cost-savings through IT. Less efficient states should be interested in improving government through efficiency. Nobody likes to be left behind, especially in government. So, work the data to benchmark less efficient states with more efficient states; it may be just the extra leverage needed to produce a win.

Follow all of the GovWin State and Local Top Opportunities, Reports, and Podcasts, here.

Follow the GovWin Justice and Public Safety/Homeland Security Team on Twitter, here. 

Follow Chris on Twitter, here.


Visit the Justice and Public Safety vertical profile, here. 

Visit the Homeland Security vertical profile, here. 

 

Georgia has more than 500 GovWin tracked opportunities as state works to become more efficient

GovWin has recently been highlighting various states which have been working to improve efficiencies, and this week we wanted to turn the spotlight on Georgia.
Over the past few years, Georgia has been doing an excellent job in terms of cutting costs, downsizing operations and streamlining the state’s overall operations. As part of this effort, the Georgia State Senate Budget Task Force delivered a final report to Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in March 2010 detailing actions the state legislature could take to balance the state’s strained budget and fully fund its priorities.
Overall, the Task Force made 50 recommendations for the legislature to consider which would slash the state’s expenditures by approximately $3.15 billion. The recommendations focused on the areas of shared services and efficiencies; downsizing and consolidation; real estate and leases; and education and healthcare, among others. 
While the task force has been working to streamline the state’s operations, Georgia was already one of the more efficient states on a statistical basis, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and GovWin (see previous analysis here and here). In the combined data, Georgia ranked #10 for overall state budget efficiency in 2010, and #8 for how the state spent federal aid dollars that same year. 
Overall, GovWin believes that efficiency initiatives in states such as Georgia will most likely take several years to fully actualize, with virtually every efficiency recommendation having a trickle-down effect on IT systems and services. Along those lines, Georgia currently has over 500 active GovWin tracked opportunities. 
The following is a breakdown of the top three Georgia opportunities (in terms of value) within the Justice/Public Safety and General Government Services verticals:
 
Justice/Public Safety
1.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity A: Video Surveillance Network; Value: $50 million
2.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity B: 700MHZ Trunked Radio Communications System; Value: $9 million
3.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity C: County Wide 800 MHZ Radio Communications System;Value: $8 million
 
General Government Services
1.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity D: Georgia Infrastructure Transformation 2010 Project (GAIT 2010); Value: $1.28 billion
2.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity E: Statewide Personal Computers Hardware and Wireless Communication; Value: $137 million
3.     GovWin Tracked Opportunity F: Statewide IT Infrastructure Network Products and Services; Value: $20 million
Note: Subscribers have access to comprehensive data and analysis for each opportunity including anticipated awards, requirements, and related dates, here.

 

 

Spotlight on American Education Week: Guardians of the cloud – higher education edition

Earlier this year, I wrote about the massive market opportunity for vendors leveraging cloud computing technologies. The potential for cost savings, scalability and storage alone is such that within 5-10 years, the cloud is likely to be a standard feature of most government IT infrastructures. In addition, the 2008 recession and the steady drip, drip, drip of layoffs in state and local government has provided the perfect justification for IT departments to secure future funding for technologies that are likely to yield savings over the next 10-20 years.
While cloud computing has been one of the chief beneficiaries of these trends, serious and deep-seeded concerns about security have and will most likely continue to blunt the overall potential for government contracting opportunities. Recent polling data from the public and private sector suggests that about half of all governments and businesses interested in implementing cloud technologies believe they do not meet industry security standards or that the risks outweigh the benefits.
It’s difficult to determine the precise effect such concerns had on cloud procurement, but a recent visit to the 2011 EDUCAUSE Conference in Philadelphia indicated these types of concerns are not isolated to the government sector and are just as widespread in the higher education market. The conference brought more than 4,000 officials from public and private universities to explore utilizing the latest advances in technology to transform and improve the educational experience. While cloud computing was the focus of more than a dozen panel sessions over the week, the topic of finding safe ways to use the cloud was a consistent undercurrent of many discussions. Several speaker presentations reflected a palpable sense of frustration with the current stalemate that exists between cloud vendors and their clientele – these frustrations were amplified by audience members during question and answer sessions.
The crux of the argument from higher education institutions is that cloud vendors cannot guarantee their data will be secure in the cloud. This fact by itself is not so damning. No solution on the market—whether developed in-house or procured through a third party – is ever completely safe, and cloud technologies should not necessarily be held to a higher standard than other IT solutions.
The problem is that universities handle reams of sensitive data such as student health records, social security and financial aid records that are subject to state and federal laws including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Universities are legally liable for keeping that information safe. Hosted cloud solutions take an element of direct control (perceived or real) away from those universities; and in this context, it is understandable that during contract negotiations with private cloud vendors, many ask that the liability be passed on to the vendor. This conflicts with current industry standard contract language provided by cloud vendors, which expressly disavows any legal responsibility on the part of the vendor:
“Vendor makes no warranty of any kind, whether express, implied, statutory, or otherwise, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular use, and non-infringement.”
This kind of typical contract language is a non-starter or, at the very least, a substantial obstacle for many universities when it comes to cloud solutions. In many cases, it can be the difference between outsourcing the work to a private vendor, doing the work in-house or abandoning the cloud option altogether. Getting vendors to agree (contractually) to some type of liability for a security breach was a constant focus at the conference. Steven McDonald, general counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design, advised higher education IT officials not to do business with a technology company that isn’t willing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to security.
“We need to specify as much as we can [during the contract process]. If we truly don’t know how this situation is going to evolve, we need something, some mechanism that will allow us to terminate very quickly,” said McDonald during one of his panels. “We’re not going to pay 100 percent upfront for that.”
On the other side of the debate, vendors argue that concerns about security are overblown and that many of the security demands for cloud services are so stringent that not even the universities purchasing the technologies would make the grade. Vendors claim they are also constrained by insurance companies, some of which will not allow the vendors to claim liability for legal obligations surrounding sensitive data. Furthermore, every technology has its trade-offs, and the benefits of leveraging the cloud (cost savings, reduced infrastructure, increased efficiency) come with a price in the form of lower security.
Still, there remains a large gap in terms of the expectations that governments and universities have regarding cloud security and what the vendor community is willing to provide. If a complete meeting of the minds is not possible, it is at least feasible to narrow that gap. For years now, the IT world has worked to form standardized, baseline requirements to guide purchasing offices when negotiating with cloud vendors. Organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) offer training courses and certification to cloud vendors who have demonstrated an understanding of the relevant security issues surrounding the technology. The National Association of College and University Attorneys and EDUCAUSE have collaborated to craft a model RFP for cloud email, calendaring and collaboration services, along with a model contract that could operate as a starting point for negotiations. As the industry coalesces around a common set of standards, the next step will consist of education of and coordination between all relevant stakeholders (the department seeking the solution, the purchasing office, legal counsel, etc) so that the higher education field can speak with one voice when it comes to defining what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable risks of outsourcing to the cloud.
To read the complete Analysts Perspective on cloud security in higher education, go here.
To read my previous Analyst Perspective on cloud security in the State and Local government sector, go here.
To read my Analyst Recap of the EDUCAUSE 2011 Annual Conference, go here.

 

Mississippi releases first phase of its health insurance exchange procurement

The Mississippi Comprehensive Health Risk Pool Association – the entity created to implement the state’s health insurance exchange (HIX) – just released a request for proposals (RFP) for the first phase of the HIX portal. The selected vendor’s top priority will be to create the initial operational exchange portal for the state’s health insurance options.

Mississippi is taking a four-phase approach to its HIX implementation in hopes it will allow consumers time to build trust in the exchange. The state aims to have the initial exchange Web portal up and running by March 30, 2012.

Upon implementation of the Web portal, the state will solicit vendors to provide additional exchange components including unsubsidized exchange functionality, subsidized exchange functionality. eligibility determination, and other supportive services.

In addition to the provision of health insurance plans, the Mississippi HIX will provide consumers with a number of helpful tools to assist in understanding the available health insurance options. This includes a toll-free telephone hotline; a website; a rating of each available plan; information about eligibility for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other available public assistance programs; a calculator to determine the cost of care; and a consumer outreach program.

Of the state’s approximately 2.95 million residents, 3 percent of children and 15 percent of adults are uninsured, totaling 532,993 residents.

For more information on nationwide HIX implementation, check out GovWin’s recently released blog on HIX budgets. Additionally, subscribers can access GovWin’s recap of this year’s National Forum on Health Insurance Exchange.

Make sure to follow GovWin’s Health Care and Social Services Team on Twitter @GovWin_HHS or connect with us through LinkedIn.

 

 

Spotlight on American Education Week: statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) grant

By Randi Powell and Joseph Lee

 

The Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Grant Program was established in 2005 under the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) Institute of Education Sciences (IES) as a competitive cooperative agreement grant. The grant was intended to allow states to manage and analyze education data such as student records. This data would help states, districts, schools, educators and other stakeholders make more informed decisions on ways to improve student learning and achievement. Because these SLDS projects are such a large undertaking that require technical skills and technologies most states and localities do not have, education technology vendors have stepped in to design, develop and implement these federally-funded statewide systems. 

 

Since the grant’s debut, there have been four rounds of SLDS grants awarded to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The most recent request for applications (RFA) released on September 15, 2011, is for the fifth round FY12 grants. Like previous years, the three priorities listed for the FY12 SLDS RFA are to:
 

1. Design, develop, and implement a statewide, longitudinal K-12 data system

2. Develop and link early childhood data with the state’s K-12 data system

3. Develop and link postsecondary and/or workforce data with the state’s K-12 data system

Individual grants for FY12 are estimated to range from $1 million to $5 million over a three-year period. The IES will award grants of no more than $5 million for Priority 1 and grants of no more than $4 million for Priorities 2 and 3. The submission deadline is December 15, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. EST. The only applications that will not be considered for the FY12 grants are the 20 state educational agencies that received the SLDS ARRA grant in May 2010, as the ARRA grants were two to three times the size of previous SLDS grants. A map of all 41 grantee states and the District of Columbia can be found below:


 

 

The federal RFA requirements are vague, but they permit grantees to develop plans, structure processes, and craft solicitations to meet their individual needs while guaranteeing federal outcomes are met. This open language in the RFA has also allowed education technology vendors to create SLDS products that act more like modular solutions. States piecemeal these solutions together along with other in-house and third party solutions and services to create a patch work SLDS. As of July 2011, IES reported on the status of SLDS projects across all 50 states, including states that had not participated in the SLDS grants. It was found that states are at differing degrees of completeness and many are still looking to procure key solutions. GovWin has been tracking many of these upcoming SLDS related opportunities:

 

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity A – Early Warning System; New York State Education Department

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity B – Electronic Record Exchange System; New York State Education Department

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity C – Higher Education Longitudinal Data System; North Dakota Department of Public Instruction

·GovWin Tracked Opportunity D – Statewide Longitudinal Data System Student and Teacher Scheduling; Connecticut Department of Education

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity E – Statewide Postsecondary Student Identification System; Iowa Department of Education

·GovWin Tracked Opportunity F – Statewide Student Information System; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity G – Postsecondary Educational Longitudinal Data System; Illinois Department of Higher Education

· GovWin Tracked Opportunity H – Statewide Student Information System and Special Education System; New Hampshire Department of Education

 

Analysts Take

 

The SLDS initiative has become the centerpiece of a growing education technology market as federal dollars push it further and faster. These one-time federal funds used for designing and implementing SLDSs have created a window of opportunity for vendors, who will likely extend these projects with ongoing maintenance and training services contracts. Nevertheless, in a time when talk of another recession looms next to the short life span on these SLDS funds, financial sustainability and technical adaptability have become major factors for states to consider.

 

In the future, SEAs will look to continue linking their K-12 SLDSs to more local education agencies (LEAs), charter schools, higher education institutions, and workforce agencies to build out a more complete view of academic achievement. Even though most of the attention at this time is being put on the development and installation of education longitudinal data systems across the country, the data this infrastructure is being built for will continue to grow and become more complex. IT solicitations seeking more efficient and effective ways of handling education data will become even more of a need:

 

·Web-based portal development

·Data collection/quality services

·Data standardization/integration services

·Data storage expansion solutions

·Interoperability expansion solutions 

 

These data-focused SLDS-related solicitations will continue to stream in even once federal grant funds dry up and larger SLDS modular solution projects are completed. Ensuring data such as student records, teacher assessments, and test score assessments can be shared not only from one district to the next or from K-12 to higher education, but from state to state will be the next hurdle.

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