April 26 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Navigator Grants and 2021 OEP Numbers
  • American Rescue Plan: Postpartum Coverage and Tax Credits
  • COVID-19 State Updates: CA, NC, ND, NE, NJ, WI
  • Other State Updates: GA, KS, MO, NM, OH, TN, TX
  • ARP Funding for States and Localities
  • Supporting Young Children Post-COVID-19
  • Health and Housing Institute for States


Navigator Grants and 2021 OEP Numbers

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will provide $80 million in grants to navigators for outreach and education for the 2022 open enrollment period (OEP). HHS also released the 2021 marketplace open enrollment report, which shows over 12 million consumers nationally selected a marketplace plan during the 2021 OEP, a five percent increase from the 2020 OEP. For an in-depth analysis of the enrollment report and the navigator grants check out a Health Affairs blog post by Katie Keith, and see here for messaging and communications considerations for states as they launch marketing efforts around affordability provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).


American Rescue Plan: Postpartum Coverage and Tax Credits

State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) published a new issue brief, The American Rescue Plan Act’s State Option to Extend Postpartum CoverageThe new state option to extend continuous coverage for one year postpartum in the ARPA enables states to take a major step towards improving health outcomes for postpartum women and their babies, and the issue brief reviews the policy and operational considerations for states of the new option to extend postpartum coverage. SHVS also published an expert perspective on the American Rescue Plan Act’s premium tax credit expansion. The expert perspective highlights the policymaking considerations that states need to account for in light of the premium tax credit expansion and uncertainty about future federal action.


COVID-19 State Updates: CA, NC, ND, NE, NJ, WI

  • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced partnerships with nearly 200 faith-based organizations to expand the state’s vaccine outreach and equity efforts. The administration is leading an effort to provide at least 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to pop-up clinics at locations in the hardest-hit areas of the state, recognizing the important role places of worship have in helping to address their members’ COVID-19 vaccine concerns and providing educational resources.
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is hosting an online town hall with the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry for small business owners and business leaders throughout the state. State leaders will provide an update on the virus, the variants discovered in Nebraska, and statewide vaccination efforts.
  • New Jersey – The Department of Human Services, in collaboration with the Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers University, produced a video that highlights considerations for individuals with disabilities at vaccine sites across New Jersey. The video is intended as a guide to help ensure vaccines are accessible to all New Jerseyans, including individuals with disabilities.
  • North Carolina – The Department of Health and Human Services announced the Bringing Summer Back get-out-the-vaccine campaign that will engage community organizations across the state to fully vaccinate as many people as possible by summer. The campaign will run during two weeks in May and two weeks in June, during which organizations across the state will rally together to promote vaccination.
  • North Dakota – Gov. Doug Burgum announced he will lift North Dakota’s COVID-19 emergency declaration on April 30 as the state continues to shift the focus of its pandemic response efforts to increasing vaccination rates.          
  • Wisconsin – The Department of Health Services will begin using VaccineFinder to help people more easily locate available vaccine providers who are open to the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the VaccineFinder tool in March to help people find COVID-19 vaccines in their area. Next month, the tool will replace the department’s map of COVID-19 vaccine providers that launched in February.


Other State Updates: GA, KS, MO, NM, OH, TN, TX

  • Georgia 
    • The state’s Section 1115 demonstration waiver to extend full Medicaid state plan benefits to postpartum women with incomes up to 220 percent of the federal poverty level from 60 days to six months was approved by CMS. The state will also provide continuous eligibility for women during the entire postpartum period, ensuring continuity of coverage.
    • The Georgia Department of Community Health released the 2021 Medicaid Quality Report detailing state strategies to address health disparities, improve health outcomes, and ensure access to care.
  • Kansas – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released its third annual report from the Kansas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). The 2019 PRAMS Surveillance Report provides insight from women who were interviewed in the months following the birth of their infants about their health and experiences around the time of pregnancy.
  • Missouri – The state’s request to provide 12 months targeted substance use disorder and mental health benefits to certain postpartum women was approved by CMS.
  • New Mexico – The state was selected by No Kid Hungry and the American Public Human Services Association to receive an innovative technology project grant. The project leverages data and improves technology to enhance the interfaces and web services for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The project will ultimately make it possible to bidirectionally exchange participant data to help streamline and maximize program enrollment.
  • Ohio – The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) announced Myers and Stauffer as its Pharmacy Pricing and Audit Consultant (PPAC). The PPAC will work with ODM to establish pharmacy prices and conduct fiscal oversight of the single pharmacy benefit manager (SPBM). PPAC oversight is designed to eliminate potential SPBM conflicts of interest, prevent prescription drug steerage, guard against other potential financial mechanisms that could increase cost, and obscure visibility into the operations of the program.
  • Tennessee – The state submitted an amendment to its 1115 waiver demonstration proposing to integrate services for members with intellectual or other developmental disabilities into the state’s existing managed care service delivery system. Additionally, the state is proposing to transition children receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits to managed care organizations and assign inmates of public institutions to TennCare Select. The federal public comment period will be open from April 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021.
  • Texas – CMS rescinded its approval of a 10-year extension of the Texas Medicaid Section 1115 waiver after determining that CMS “materially erred in granting Texas’s request for an exemption from the normal public notice process under 42 C.F.R. § 431.416(g).”


Treasury Prepares to Distribute American Rescue Plan Funds

On April 16, the Department of the Treasury published pre-award requirements for state, locality, tribal, county, and city governments that are eligible direct recipients of the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the ARPA. Treasury requests eligible recipients to register as soon as possible with the System for Award Management (SAM) database and provide certain payment information, signaling that the Treasury is preparing to distribute the funds to eligible entities. The ARPA generally requires Treasury to distribute “to the extent practicable” the first tranches of funds to state and locality recipients within 60 days of receipt of recipients submitting the required certification information. For more information about the funds, see estimates of the amount of funding to be distributed to eligible entities.


Supporting Early Development and Learning Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reduced access to in-person early childhood and learning programs. Child health and development experts worry that the lack of social connection, interaction with early learning professionals and peers, and missed opportunities to identify developmental and learning delays will have long-term impacts on young children. The Center for Health Care Strategies is hosting a webinar on April 27 that will highlight efforts used to support young children with development and learning needs throughout the pandemic. During the webinar, early childhood and Medicaid experts from Ohio, North Carolina, and the Federal Office of Head Start will explore how states and communities can prepare to support the learning and social and emotional development of young children as they reenter early childhood and learning settings after local lockdown restrictions are lifted.


Health and Housing Institute for States

The National Academy for State Health Policy is inviting states to apply to its second Health and Housing Institute. The goal of the Institute is to break down interagency silos and strengthen services and supports to help low-income and vulnerable populations become and remain successfully housed. With newly available ARPA resources, this is an opportune time for states to build capacity to address housing affordability, home- and community-based services, and permanent supportive housing. States participating in the institute will receive two years of targeted technical assistance to support the development and/or implementation of sustainable financing of health and housing programs, which may include guidance on how to equitably and efficiently allocate new federal resources to address an increase in housing instability and homelessness arising from COVID-19. Applications are due April 30.