DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 3 Issue 4

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Thursday, February 11, 2016| Vol. 3, No. 4

DHHS' Highlights is published by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for those interested in the latest information on health and human services issues. Please subscribe to or share the newsletter by clicking on the  "Share" button. 

ACCESSNebraska surpasses Federal SNAP Non-Compliance Benchmark

Doug Weinberg

Good news for ACCESSNebraska and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

DHHS announced on February 5th that the program has more than passed the first federal benchmark of 85 percent in meeting federal standards for timely processing of SNAP applications.

Doug Weinberg, Division of Children and Family Services Director, said the U.S. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) reported ACCESSNebraska’s processing rate improved to 91.67 percent for April-September 2015, up from 62.79 percent in early 2014. With a margin of error at 3.68 percent, the high end of the state’s rate is 95.35 percent. The average processing rate nationally was 89.46 percent. 

ACCESSNebraska’s national ranking improved to 27th, compared to August of 2014 when Nebraska was rated last in the country. 

Monthly updates on the performance of SNAP and Economic Assistance are available on the DHHS website:  accessnebraska.ne.gov by clicking on Key Performance Metrics.

Megan Gumbel

Megan Gumbel Named CEO of Beatrice State Development Center

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities Director Courtney Miller recently announced that Megan Gumbel (pictured) has been named chief executive officer of the Beatrice State Development Center effective March 15, 2016.

Gumbel currently serves as the Northeast Regional Director overseeing Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio for Bethesda Lutheran Communities in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“Megan brings the knowledge and experience we had long sought in our next CEO at the Beatrice Center,” Miller said. “She will play in integral role in the future of BSDC and the well-being of many residents who have never known another home.”

Zika Virus Cases Reported in Nebraska

Two cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Nebraska. Two Nebraska women in their 20s are infected with the virus that they contracted after traveling to affected countries. The women are from Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Neither woman was hospitalized.

DHHS Health officials say the Zika virus is transmitted primarily from the bite of a specific type of mosquito which hasn't been identified in Nebraska.

“Seeing a travel-related case of Zika in Nebraska is new but not unexpected. We were aware of confirmed cases among travelers returning to America from affected areas,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “It’s very possible that we could see more travel-related cases here. This is a rapidly evolving situation in the geographical distribution of Zika virus and what we know about its impact on human health.”   

The CDC has put its Emergency Operations Center on Level 1 Status, its highest level. Click here for more information from the CDC on Zika and preventative tips for travelers.

Heritage Health

DHHS Announces Contract Recommendations for Heritage Health

A recent announcement from the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care (MLTC) outlines the recommendations of three managed care organizations (MCOs) to administer the upcoming Heritage Health program. Heritage Health is a new health care delivery system that combines Nebraska’s current physical health, behavioral health, and pharmacy programs into a single comprehensive and coordinated system for 230,000 Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees.  All of the health plans selected will operate statewide. 

Six bids were received through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process. The three recommended health plans are: 

• Aetna Better Health of Nebraska
• Nebraska Total Care (Centene)
• UnitedHealthcare Community Plan 

For more information on Heritage Health, including procurement materials, a fact sheet, and frequently asked questions, please visit dhhs.ne.gov/HeritageHealth

Calder Lynch

DHHS Issues Long-Term Care (LTC) Redesign Concept Paper

The Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care (MLTC) has launched its long-term care redesign project with the release of the “Nebraska Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports Redesign” concept paper which outlines the current challenges in the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) system, the Division’s guiding principles for the redesign, and solicits input from stakeholders in several key areas. Over the next year, MLTC will work with LTSS stakeholders exploring opportunities for improving the LTSS system.

“This concept paper is an important first step to ignite a discussion with our stakeholders,” Calder Lynch said in a news release. “We know we can do better in serving older Nebraskans and individuals with disabilities. The redesign project offers us the opportunity to work collaboratively to evaluate the current system … what works, what does not, and what needs improvements. From there, we will work together to develop a system to best serve the needs of Nebraskans.”

dental day1

Annual Children's Dental Day a Success

Recently, DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips visited the UNMC College of Dentistry for their annual Children’s Dental Day. Now in its 15th year, the program devotes its entire Lincoln facility, students, staff, and faculty for a full day to provide a full range of dental care to underserved Nebraska children.
Phillips toured the facility and met with some of the faculty, staff, dental students, and Nebraska children benefitting from this program.  About 200 kids are bussed in from as far west as Lexington, and as far east as Omaha.

Some of the first year students dressed as the Tooth Fairy and Ortho-Man to help make the experience a little easier for the kids. More than 4,500 Nebraska children have been served through the program.

Pictured are College of Dentistry Dean Dr. Janet Guthmiller and DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips with costumed VIPs.

Omaha World Herald

Special Sweetheart's Dance taking place for Veterans' Home Members

Residents of the Eastern Nebraska Veterans' Home have the chance to dance the night away Friday evening, February 12th. Students from the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Club at Bellevue East High School are sponsoring a dance at ENVH that spans five decades of styles.

The program is part of an FBLA partnership started this year when students chose the veterans home as a community service project.

They're working to raise $3,000 to help ENVH purchase iPads for the members. Click here to read more about the dance and the fundraising efforts.