In This Week’s Update:
- New SHVS Webinar: Equitable Vaccine Distribution
- State updates: AL, AR, CA, CO, LA, MN, NC, NJ, NY, TX & VA
- Medicaid and Youth With Special Health Care Needs
- Reducing Disparities by Standardizing Plans
- Addressing Postpartum Care in Pediatric Settings
New SHVS Webinar: Equitable Vaccine Distribution
With the rise in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Delta variant, and the CDC announcing new guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated adults in states with higher rates of infection, reaching those eligible for the vaccine who remain unvaccinated is of ever-increasing importance. To that end, State Health and Value Strategies is hosting a webinar, Strategies for States to Drive Equitable Vaccine Distribution and Administration, on Thursday, August 12. During the webinar experts from Manatt Health and Health Equity Solutions will provide an overview of the strategies states can pursue in partnership with community-based organizations to reduce disparities in COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and in the longer term, to build a more equitable and sustainable public health system.
- The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is sponsoring a TikTok contest for persons between the ages of 13 and 29 to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 before the beginning of the school year. To participate, contestants are to submit a TikTok video showing themselves getting vaccinated or include a creative message explaining, “This is why I got vaccinated.” A panel of judges composed of advertising professionals and ADPH personnel will select four winners who will each be awarded a $250 Visa gift card.
- Alabama families who receive benefits through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program may start seeing self-checkout options available at their local authorized WIC store. The hope is that the new self-checkout option will provide a smoother, more convenient shopping experience for WIC shoppers and an increased redemption of healthy food benefits for WIC families.
- Arkansas – The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced that new COVID-19 relief funding will assist youth and young adults who have experienced foster care in Arkansas to help them manage during the ongoing pandemic. The payments, which will be funded by the federal Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act, will be one-time, direct payments of at least $750 to Arkansans ages 16 to 26 who have experienced foster care at some point between the ages of 16 and 21. DCFS officials estimate that about 4,000 youth are eligible for payments.
- Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to expand full-scope Medi-Cal eligibility to low-income adults 50 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status. The health care bill, AB 133, makes changes toward a more equitable and prevention-focused approach to health care through expanded behavioral health initiatives supporting California youth and people with severe behavioral health challenges, including those experiencing homelessness; extending Medi-Cal eligibility for postpartum individuals 12 months without requiring a mental health diagnosis, including for eligible undocumented Californians, and supporting continued telehealth flexibilities.
- Covered California, the state-based marketplace, announced its plans and rates for the 2022 coverage year, which will include a full year of lower premiums under the American Rescue Plan. The preliminary rate increase for California’s individual market is 1.8 percent in 2022, contributing to a three-year average increase of 1.1 percent (2020-2022). Additionally, the new and expanded financial help provided by the law has led to a record 1.6 million people enrolled in Covered California, resulting in a low rate change for a third straight year.
- Colorado – The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) released preliminary rate filings for 2022 health insurance plans, which show premium prices in the individual market (non-employer coverage) increasing an average of 1.4 percent statewide over 2021 premiums.
- Starting Monday, July 26, the Medicaid agency began calling Medicaid members who need to renew their coverage. Medicaid analysts will be steadily reaching out to Medicaid members who received a renewal packet in the mail but have not yet responded.
- A new report from the Louisiana Department of Health, the Special Report on Health Access Disparities, examines disparities based on data from over 8,500 Louisiana households surveyed in the Louisiana Health Insurance Survey. The report focuses on differences in access to health care in Louisiana across demographic groups and insurance plans – including those who are not insured.
- Governor Tim Walz announced that fourteen Minnesota barber shops and salons are now participating in President Biden’s ‘Shots at the Shop’ initiative, a nationwide program to engage Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to support local vaccine education and outreach efforts.
- Governor Tim Walz also announced Minnesota’s ‘Vax to School’ campaign encouraging students and families to get fully vaccinated by the beginning of the school year. To kick off the campaign, the Minnesota Department of Health released a video of educators from across Minnesota calling on students and families to get vaccinated to ensure a safe and worry-free school year.
- New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that establishes a statewide universal newborn home visitation program in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. The state will provide a registered nurse to conduct home visits for all mothers and newborns within two weeks of birth, and serves both adoptive and resource parents, as well as those families who experience stillbirths. The program will be at no cost to the family. Home visits will feature an evidence-based evaluation of the physical, emotional, and social factors affecting parents and their newborn including physical and mental health wellness checks, breastfeeding support and reproductive planning, environmental assessments of the home, and assessments for social determinants of health, such as food security, transportation access, childcare planning, and employment to ensure families have their needs identified and met.
- New York – NY State of Health, the state-based marketplace, announced that more than 111,000 New Yorkers have newly enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) or Essential Plan coverage since January. In addition, since March 31, 2021, when NY State of Health implemented the American Rescue Plan Act insurance provisions, more than 140,000 New Yorkers are benefitting from the increased financial assistance available. Of these 140,000 enrollees, 121,000 are low or moderate income (below 400 percent of the federal poverty level) and 18,000 are higher income (above 400 percent of the federal poverty level), who are eligible for the federal tax credits for the first time.
- North Carolina
- The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that the state received more than $4.9 million federal funds for small rural hospitals in the state to provide COVID-19 testing and mitigation. The program will provide increased COVID-19 testing to rural populations ensuring an equitable distribution across the state.
- NCDHHS also announced the selection of seven organizations to serve as Behavioral Health and Intellectual/Developmental Disability Tailored Plans (Behavioral Health I/DD Tailored Plans). Individuals who need certain services to address a serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, severe substance use disorder, intellectual/developmental disability or traumatic brain injury may be eligible to enroll in a Behavioral Health I/DD Tailored Plan.
- Texas – Houston-area high school graduates from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s new partnership pilot program, Texas Works Path to Success, are launching their careers with HHSC. The pilot program equips low-income high school seniors with job skills training necessary for work as a Texas Works Advisor I in a Houston-area eligibility office for health and human services programs. These new staff members help connect Texans to services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid. High school seniors are guaranteed a job after they successfully complete the program and graduate high school.
- Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Commonwealth will commit $485 million in federal and state funding to address pressing challenges in Virginia’s behavioral health system. The plan includes targeted investments to alleviate pressure on state mental health hospitals, strengthen community-based services, and increase support for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.
Recommendations for Medicaid Agencies: Engaging Youth with Special Health Care Needs and Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs
Meaningful partnerships with youth with special health care needs and families of children with special health care needs can help Medicaid agencies better support youth and families in meeting their goals for improved health and well-being. To understand the broad range of engagement strategies being used by Medicaid agencies across the country, the Center for Health Care Strategies, with support from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, conducted a 50-state survey and a set of interviews with select states and family-focused organizations. In a new report, CHCS highlights key findings from the survey and interviews, including engagement themes, challenges, and recommendations for Medicaid agencies, youth with special health care needs and families of children with special health care needs, and funders to strengthen engagement that can have lasting impact on outcomes, quality, equity, and cost.
Standardizing Marketplace Health Plans to Improve Value and Reduce Disparities
In a new blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, experts from Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms discuss how state efforts to standardize marketplace health plans can provide the Biden administration with examples of how to improve value and reduce disparities. As the Biden administration continues its efforts to build on the ACA, its regulatory to-do list includes revisiting Trump-era policies struck down by the courts. This spring, a federal court concluded that several Trump administration actions to weaken the ACA broke federal law. Among these was the decision to eliminate certain consumer-friendly rules for HealthCare.gov, including a policy encouraging standardized health plan designs for marketplace coverage. In its work to restore the policy, the Biden administration can learn from what states are doing now.
Addressing Postpartum Depression in Pediatric Settings
Untreated postpartum depression drives health disparities and can negatively interfere with a caregiver’s attachment and engagement, significantly affecting the mental health, development and safety of their child. While pediatric offices often have a consistent, positive connection to families and their young children, the way care is currently delivered and paid for in this setting is not designed to meet the mental health needs of postpartum birthing individuals. In a recently published policy brief, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab provides recommendations for state policymakers to improve pathways to care and a vision for a pediatric health system that—in partnership with the adult care system—addresses health disparities in the postpartum period and ensures that all birthing individuals and their children have access to the care they need during this crucial time in their lives.