August 26 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Health and Human Services SUD Fact Sheet
  • State Updates: AZ, CO, DE, GA, MT & NJ
  • Webinar: Evidence-Based Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities
  • Webinar: Final Public Charge Rule
  • Access to OUD Treatments
  • Working with CBOs


Health and Human Services SUD Fact Sheet

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed revisions to regulations to facilitate better coordination of care for substance use disorders and enhance care for opioid use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a fact sheet on proposed rule changes to 42 CFR part 2 regulations, which serve to protect patient records created by federally funded programs for the treatment of substance use disorder. For an analysis of how the proposed rule could improve the coordination of substance use disorder care, see this article. Once published in the federal register, the public comment period will be open for a period of sixty days.


State Updates: AZ, CO, DE, GA, MT & NJ

  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) seeks public comment regarding the proposed merger agreement between Centene Corporation and WellCare Health Plans, and on the proposed transition plan associated with the merger. Two AHCCCS contracted health plans, Arizona Complete Health-Complete Care Plan and Care1st Health Plan of Arizona, are affected by this proposed merger.
  • Colorado
    • The Department of Health Care Policy & Financing announced that Tracy Johnson, Ph.D., will join the Department as Colorado’s Medicaid Director. Most recently, Johnson was with Denver Health and Hospital Authority (DHHA) where she served as DHHA’s Director of Health Care Reform Initiatives.
    • Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health marketplace, announced that Monica VanBuskirk has joined the leadership team as the Chief Policy and Relationships Officer. The position was created to shape the organization’s increased involvement in the health policy arena and to advance the organization’s marketing strategy, external relationship network and policy objectives.
  • Georgia – Department of Insurance Commissioner John F. King is advising all Georgians of the potential coverage and financial risks surrounding Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs). In the advisory, Commissioner King reminds residents that these plans do not contain common consumer protections required of traditional health insurance.
  • New Jersey – The New Jersey Department of Health hosted Fighting Stigma to End the Overdose Epidemic: A Harm Reduction Workshopon August 21, which highlighted harm reduction as an evidence-based public health tool for New Jersey communities. The workshop featured national experts and local leaders who discussed how harm reduction policy and practice can prevent overdose deaths, reduce drug-related stigma and decrease transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C.
  • Delaware and Montana – CMS officially approved both Delaware and Montana’s Section 1332 waiver applications for reinsurance programs beginning in plan year 2020. Twelve Section 1332 waivers have now been approved, 11 for reinsurance programs; this map tracking state 1332 waiver activity from State Health and Value Strategies is updated to reflect these latest developments and includes links to resources for states considering a 1332 waiver.


Webinar: Evidence-Based Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities

State Health and Value Strategies is convening the third webinar in its series SHVS Health Equity Through Managed Care on Tuesday, August 27 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST. The upcoming webinar, Evidence-Based Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities, will identify evidence-based interventions that states can use to address disparities in their Medicaid managed care programs. During the webinar, Dr. Marshall Chin, Co-Director of Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment and Systems Transformation at the University of Chicago, will provide an overview of approaches for reducing disparities, drawing from a review of over 400 disparity intervention studies and from his program’s experience providing technical assistance to health care organizations. The webinar will also provide a roadmap to guide the work of Medicaid managed care programs to reduce disparities in care and elucidate the role of consumers in those interventions.

Registration (required) at the following link:


Final Public Charge Rule: Analysis and Potential Implications

SHVS will host a webinar on the final public charge rule, facilitated by experts at Manatt Health, on Tuesday, Sept. 3 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST. Released on August 12 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the rule will go in effect beginning October 15 and will change how DHS determines whether immigrants—when seeking admission to the U.S., an extension of their stay, or status change to become a legal permanent resident—are “likely at any time to become a public charge” (i.e., dependent on the government for financial support). The webinar will review the final rule, highlight changes from the proposed rule, and explore the rule’s potential impacts on consumers, states and providers. Speakers will highlight the key ways the proposed rule departs from current guidance, with a particular focus on the implications for Medicaid and other health-related public benefits.

Registration (required) at the following link: 


New Report Looks at Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

The Urban Institute published an issue brief this week that examines access to effective treatments for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). Access to these treatments is particularly important in Medicaid, which covers a disproportionately large share of people with OUD. Despite strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for OUD (sometimes called medication-assisted treatment), research indicates that most people with OUD do not receive treatment. This brief uses Medicaid State Drug Utilization Data (SDUD) to assess buprenorphine maintenance treatment in Medicaid. The authors estimated trends from 2011 to 2018 and patterns across states and the District of Columbia.


Working with Community Based Organizations to Address Social Needs

Social Interventions Research and Evaluation (SIREN) is hosting a webinar to discuss findings from recent research that explores community-based organization/health care collaborations to address patients’ social needs. Speakers will discuss the different ways state Medicaid agencies are using policy levers to support new collaborations, perspectives of community based organizations in Massachusetts, and research from California and Oregon on how those states are using Medicaid 1115 waivers to overcome obstacles to cross-sectoral partnerships.