Addressing Care Coordination

Bill (SB 1068) on care coordination for chronic diseases was introduced in the State of Connecticut by the Public Health Committee during the General Assembly’s January 2013 session. The bill calls for the Commissioner of Public Health to consult with the Comptroller and representatives of hospitals, healthcare facilities, along with local and regional health departments to develop a plan to meet the needs of the chronically ill.

The goal is to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases, improve chronic care coordination, and reduce the incidence and effects of chronic disease in healthcare facilities. The bill proposes that each year by January 15th, a report must be submitted to the General Assembly and then to the Joint Committee on Public Health. The annual report would be posted on the Department of Public Health’s web site within 30 days.

Each report would need to include information on but not be limited to:

  • A description of the chronic diseases that are most likely to cause a person’s death or disability
  • The approximate number of persons affected by chronic diseases and an assessment of the financial effects of each disease on the state, hospitals, and healthcare facilities
  • A description and assessment of programs and actions that have been implemented by the department, hospitals, and healthcare facilities to improve chronic care coordination
  • The source and amounts of funding received by the department to treat persons with multiple chronic conditions that are the most prevalent in the state
  • A description of the chronic care coordination that exists between the Department of Public Health, hospitals, and healthcare facilities
  • Detailed recommendations on actions that need to be taken by hospitals and healthcare facilities and recommendations to reduce hospital readmission rates, and how to achieve effective drug therapy monitoring
  • Identify future goals for coordinating care and reduce the incidence of persons having multiple chronic conditions


The legislation was referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health and a public hearing is expected to be held in March.  







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Grants for Rare Disease Research

Representative Barbara Lee form California introduced the bill “Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) Consortium Act” (H.R. 660) to provide grants to do research on the causes, risk factors, and biomarkers associated with NMO. So far, there has not been a comprehensive study that analyzes all the relevant clinical, biological, and epidemiological aspects of NMO that can be used to identify potential risk factors and biomarkers for NMO

NMO an uncommon disease syndrome can attack the central nervous system This devastating neurologic disease can lead to blindness and paralysis and it is estimated there are 11,000 patients with NMO in the U.S. Women are affected 7 to 9 times more than men and a large proportion of NMO patients are African-American.

NMO is a central nervous system disorder causing primarily swelling and inflammation of the eye nerves and the spinal cord. NMO occurs when the body’s immune system reacts against its own cells in the central nervous system that occurs mainly in the optic nerves and spinal cord, but sometimes in the brain

NMO was once thought of as a variant of MS and is still sometimes misdiagnosed as MS. Yet it differs from MS, since NMO does not often involve the brain, severe attacks are more robust as compared to MS, and the pathophysiology differs from MS.

According to NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), there is no cure for NMO, but there are therapies to treat an attack while it is happening to reduce symptoms and to prevent relapses. Doctors usually treat an initial attack of NMO with a combination of a corticosteroid drug to stop the attack and an immunosuppressive drug to prevent subsequent attacks.

Representative Lee’s bill would enable the Director of NIH in collaboration with the Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to coordinate the efforts to establish a National Neuromyelitis Optica Consortium.

The legislation would enable the Consortium to provide grants for not fewer than five years so that the Consortium would be able to conduct research on a minimum of 25 individuals diagnosed with NMO.

The Consortium would be responsible to design a common study, develop standard protocols, methods, procedures, and assays to use with individuals enrolled as study participants, develop specific analytical methods for examining data, and provide provisions to review enrolled cases. Another objective would be to designate a central laboratory to collect, analyze, and aggregate data with respect to the research and then make this data and analysis available to researchers.


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Mass HIway to Fund $2 Million

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has announced that $2 million is available to fund projects that catalyze connections to the statewide Health Information Exchange called the “Mass HIway”. Successful proposals will aim toward measurable improvements in care quality, population health, and cost containment through use of health information technology and the Mass HIway.

The Mass HIway program is funded through HHS in the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) of Health IT. ONC has designated funds in support of states and their efforts to rapidly build capacity for exchanging health information across the healthcare system. The “Last Mile Program” is working collaboratively with the State Executive Office for Health and Human Services and is using program funding to fund the Mass HIway Implementation Grants.

Applicants may apply for grant awards for amounts up to $75,000 with proposals due April 16, 2013 with awards to be announced in May.  Applicants will need to perform some or all of the following steps:

  • Determine how you intend to leverage the Mass HIway
  • Partner with organizations to exchange information
  • Select connection options
  • Sign the Mass HIway participation agreement and agree to the Mass HIway enrollment fee structure
  • Load participants into the Participant Directory
  • Use the Mass HIway to refine workflows


The Mass HIway team is hosting online information sessions throughout March. For more information, on the “Mass HIway Implementation Grants Solicitation” (2013-MeHI-09), go to

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NSF’s Connected Health Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) through their Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) have issued solicitation (13-543) for their “Smart and Connected Health” (SCH) program. SCH’s goal is to support the much needed transformation of healthcare from reactive and hospital-centered care to preventive, proactive, evidence-based, person-centered, and focused on well-being rather than disease.

The purpose of the program is to develop next generation healthcare solutions and encourage existing and new research communities to focus on breakthrough ideas in a variety of areas of value to health. These areas may include sensor technology, networking, information and machine learning technology, decision support systems, modeling of behavioral and cognitive processes, as well as system and process modeling. (more…)

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Update on Rural Healthcare

Today, numerous challenges are hindering providers in rural areas from delivering the best care possible. Rural populations are generally older, poorer, and sicker than their urban counterparts, and providers are more dependent on Medicare reimbursement, and susceptible to shifts and changes to the program.

In addition, rural hospitals which are often the primary providers of care are facing declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels making it a challenge to serve rural residents.

To help alleviate some of the problems, Representative Arron Schock (R-IL) recently introduced the bipartisan “Rural Health Clinic Fairness Act” (H.R. 986). This bill would help rural healthcare affordable and allow seniors to continue to receive high quality care from Rural Health Clinics (RHC) (more…)

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Smartphones to Save Lives

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is developing a cellphone-based device to use for pathogen detection. Researchers are developing the technology to collect a sample, analyze the results, geotag the location of the sample, and then send the results to a laboratory for further review which will all be accomplished using a smartphone.

Scientists at ECBC worked with a team at UCLA to adapt the prototype of a plastic clip-on microscope so it will fit on an android phone commonly used by the Army. The device clips directly over the smartphone camera and operates just like a microscope. (more…)

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N.Y and Utah Actions

Legislation (S4023-2013) was recently introduced in the New York Senate to develop and provide telehealth and telemedicine services in the state and to provide funds for telehealth and telemedicine development research grants. The purpose of this bill is to serve as catalyst to expand and improve telehealth and telemedicine programs in communities across the state and develop an integrated telecommunications system. (more…)

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