News in Brief: Week of Sept. 24-28

September 26, 2012 06:15 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

CMS Updates Medicaid RAC Website

CMS has upgraded its Medicaid Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) website to include state-reported information on each state RAC program.

Medicaid RACs -- entities required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- contract with state Medicaid agencies and are charged with identifying and recovering overpayments, and in some cases underpayments, to Medicaid participating physicians and health care professionals.

The website, dubbed RACS-at-a-glance(, features a scroll-over map that provides the name of each state's RAC program, the name of the RAC vendor and medical director, contact information for the state program integrity director, and user-friendly charts and data.

USPSTF Issues Draft Recommendations on Alcohol Screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a draft recommendation statement( encouraging clinicians to screen adults, including young adults and pregnant women, for alcohol misuse and to provide persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse.

The task force also concluded there currently is insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening and behavioral counseling interventions in adolescents. The draft recommendation statement will be available for public comment until October 22.

Congress Passes Stop-Gap Funding Measure

Congress has passed a continuing resolution( (at the THOMAS website, type "H.J. Res 117" in the search box after selecting "Bill Number") to keep the federal government funded well into the next federal fiscal year, approving a measure that provides a .6 percent across-the-board increase in appropriated funds.

The continuing resolution will fund the federal government until March 27, well past the Oct. 1, 2012, start of the 2013 fiscal year. The continuing resolution applies to discretionary programs, not mandatory programs, meaning the .6 percent increase will affect initiatives such as Title VII health professions programs but not mandatory spending programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

Colorado PCMH Project Reduces Inpatient Hospital Stays, ER Visits

Colorado's Medicaid program has experienced significant cost savings as a result of a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) project that has reduced inpatient hospital stays and emergency room (ER) visits, according to an article in the Denver Post(

Colorado has assigned more than 128,000 Medicaid recipients to medical homes in seven regions of the state. Based on six months of preliminary data, inpatient hospital stays among adults with disabilities fell by 9 percent compared to recipients not enrolled in a PCMH, the Denver Post reports. Adult ER visits, meanwhile, fell by 5 percent.