August 31 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Updated Tools for Supporting Essential Providers During COVID-19
  • COVID-19 State Updates: CO, MA, MN, NC, NV, OR, VA & WA
  • Other State Updates: DE, NE, NH, NJ, PA & VA
  • Supporting Community Health Workers/Promotores
  • Special Enrollment Periods: the FEMA SEP
  • Racial Equity Throughout Data Integration


Updated Tools for Supporting Essential Providers During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated in April, State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) hosted a webinar to discuss tools in both fee-for-service and Medicaid managed care that states can use to increase payments to providers in financial distress as a result of decreased health care utilization. Since that time, the federal government has responded to the financial challenges facing providers due to the pandemic in several different ways. SHVS has updated the slide deck from the webinar, and the companion toolkit, to reflect more recent federal guidance and examples of specific strategies states implemented between April and August 2020.


COVID-19 State Updates: CO, MA, MN, NC, NV, OR, VA & WA

  • Massachusetts
    • The Baker-Polito Administration announced two rapid response testing initiatives for schools to address potential clusters of COVID-19 cases among students, teachers or staff at a school building. School officials, after consultation with public health authorities, will be able to request a state-sponsored mobile testing unit come to their school to test a group of students and/or staff if a potential cluster of COVID-19 has been identified and transmission appears to have occurred within the school.
    • The Baker-Polito Administration announced $3.3 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for Massachusetts residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is being awarded as part of the second round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force.
  • Minnesota – Governor Tim Walz signed legislation to support disability services providers. The law provides $30 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to assist certain disability providers with the costs of business interruptions caused by COVID-19. It also helps ensure access to these services during and after COVID-19, makes it easier for people to apply for economic assistance programs during COVID-19, and expands the universe of providers who can access a Department of Human Services grant program that supports people with disabilities and older adults.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services awarded four contracts to regional organizations to administer its new COVID-19 Support Services program. The program will support North Carolinians in 20 targeted counties who are asked to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 and need assistance such as food, relief payments, or access to primary medical care.
  • Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Seventy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at Virginia’s state-operated psychiatric hospitals and ensure the safety of patients and staff during the ongoing health crisis. The executive order directs that when state hospitals are operating at 100 percent of their total bed capacity, they will not serve as the facility of temporary detention for individuals who are not under emergency custody.
  • Colorado, Nevada, Oregon & Washington – The governors of these states announced a collaboration to work together to identify best practices to support telehealth services in their respective states. Each state will have individual state-driven approaches to implementing telehealth policies but the work will be guided by seven overarching principles.


Other State Updates: DE, NE, NH, NJ, PA & VA

  • Delaware – The state submitted a request to amend its approved Section 1115 demonstration entitled “Delaware Diamond State Health Plan 1115 Demonstration.” The amendment request seeks authority to add preventative and restorative dental services for adults enrolled in the State’s Medicaid program. Public comments can be submitted until September 26.
  • Nebraska – Due to a newly available Spanish translation and a strong response to the English version, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is extending the deadline for response to a survey intended to better help Nebraska’s Public Behavioral Health System provide a high level of services for children, youth, adults, and families. The DHHS Division of Behavioral Health is seeking input from key stakeholders and the public to assist with the development of a strategic plan, which will be available for input until close of business on August 31 for the Spanish version.
  • New Hampshire – The state submitted a request to amend its Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment and Recovery Access Section 1115(a) demonstration. The goal of the amendment is to prospectively increase the demonstration’s per member per month limits to account for, among other things, the state’s SUD provider rate increases and to correct mistakes made with its original budget neutrality calculations. Public comments will be accepted until September 25.
  • New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy released his revised budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021, noting it does not impose any new burdens on Medicaid recipients and includes estimated state revenue from the newly created 2.5 percent state health insurer assessment. The revised budget also proposes to launch a statewide Baby Bonds initiative, which will provide a $1,000 deposit for the approximately 72,000 babies born in 2021 into families whose income is less than 500 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, approximately three of four children born in the state. When these residents turn 18, they can withdraw these funds to help them pursue higher education, buy a home, start a business, or pursue other wealth-generating activities.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health released a request for applications for the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. This program provides funding to recruit and retain primary care providers working in areas where there are shortages of health care practitioners.
  • Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia has been approved to proceed with a state-based health insurance exchange. Approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allows the state to move to a State-based Exchange on the Federal Platform (SBE-FP) status and take over some functions of its current federal exchange beginning with open enrollment this November. The approval puts the Commonwealth on a path to full control by 2023.


Training and Supporting Community Health Workers

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) published a report that shares findings from their comprehensive scan of training and certification approaches undertaken by states across the country to support the professional development of community health workers and promotores (CHW/Ps). States increasingly recognize the value of CHW/P, members of the community who connect patients to needed health-related and social services in a culturally competent manner, for reaching underserved populations and the need to support this workforce. The CHCS report outlines a set of training and professional recognition considerations for sustaining a robust CHW/P workforce.


Special Enrollment Periods: the FEMA SEP

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, through their project Health Reform: Beyond the Basics, published a fact sheet on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) special enrollment period (SEP). A change to the application implements the FEMA SEP to allow people who missed their 60-day SEP window to enroll in Marketplace coverage. The new fact sheet provides an explainer of the FEMA SEP and how it works.  


Racial Equity Throughout Data Integration

The Network for Public Health Law and All In: Data for Community Health are hosting a three-part webinar series on racial equity through data integration. The first webinar, on Thursday, September 3, will provide an introduction to cross-sector data sharing and profile a new resource from Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP), Introduction to Data Sharing and Integration. During the webinar, presenters will review the benefits, limitations, and risks of data sharing and outline best practices for strong planning, governance, legal, and technical approaches. Presenters will also discuss case examples for successful cross-sector data integration based upon AISP’s decade of work alongside All In’s Network and Learning Community sites.