Dec 11 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • New SHVS Unwinding Resources
  • New Initiatives to Support Individuals During Open Enrollment
  • Cost-Growth Benchmarks Can Make Healthcare More Affordable and Equitable
  • Medicaid Health-Related Social Needs Learning Series
  • Emerging Leaders of Color Fellowship
  • State updates: DC, FL, ID, MS, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, WA, WI & WV

New SHVS Unwinding Resources

This week, CMS published and made effective an interim final rule (IFR), with a comment period regarding states’ ongoing unwinding efforts to redetermine eligibility for all Medicaid enrollees. State Health & Value Strategies published an expert perspective summarizing the IFR, which interprets and implements the state reporting requirements and CMS enforcement authorities that Congress enacted last winter in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. SHVS also published a new States of Unwinding post that highlights state efforts to maintain coverage.


Also this week, as the 11th annual open enrollment period (OEP) is underway, SHVS published an expert perspective highlighting new initiatives being implemented by State-Based Marketplaces (SBMs). To support consumers during this OEP, SBMs are innovating to make health coverage more affordable by establishing or improving state subsidy programs, expanding coverage for undocumented populations, and implementing policies to make it easier for consumers to enroll in coverage. Updates follow.


Cost-Growth Benchmarks Can Make Healthcare More Affordable and Equitable

As part of a forthcoming series that explores how states that are seeking to lower the cost of care can also advance health equity, the Century Foundation published a new report focused on cost-growth benchmarks. The report provides background on the factors that have driven unsustainable increases in the cost of healthcare and how the burden of unaffordable care falls disproportionately on marginalized communities. The authors provide policy recommendations for states planning to implement cost-growth benchmarks that will enable them to better promote health equity in design, implementation, and execution.

Medicaid Health-Related Social Needs Learning Series

With support from the Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) has launched a new initiative: the Medicaid Health-Related Social Needs (HRSN) Implementation Learning Series. This learning series is a 12-month opportunity for state Medicaid officials to learn from their peers in other states, national thought leaders, and organizations at the cutting edge of health and social care integration. In partnership with HealthBegins and the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network, CHCS will support up to nine Medicaid agencies developing, implementing, or refining HRSN initiatives. There will be an informational call for potential applicants on December 15, and applications are due January 23, 2024.

Emerging Leaders of Color Fellowship

The National Academy for State Health Policy is accepting applications for its 2024 Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) Fellowship, designed to provide early-career individuals from communities of color an opportunity to learn about state health policy and state career pathways from senior state leaders of color. The ELC Fellowship is an immersive program that aims to empower emerging and aspiring state health policy leaders of color—particularly those from communities most impacted by health inequities—with the tools to build a career in executive branches of state government and lead the development and administration of more equitable state health policy informed by their lived experiences. Completed applications, including a resume, are due Monday, January 8, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. ET.

State updates: DC, FL, ID, MS, NC, ND, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, WA, WI & WV

  • District of Columbia – The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) is seeking public comment on the 2024-2027 Medicaid Managed Care Quality Strategy. The Quality Strategy documents DHCF’s approach to assessing and improving the quality of healthcare and services received by enrollees in managed care plans.
  • Florida – The Florida Department of Children and Families launched a new Medicaid eligibility portal for Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) enrollees. The portal will retain its original name, MyAccess. Key areas of modernization include enhanced usability, mobile responsiveness, streamlined document upload, and enhanced security.
  • Idaho – The new Idaho Behavioral Health Plan (IBHP), which consolidates behavioral health services for Idahoans under a single plan, is scheduled to go-live on July 1, 2024. Under the IBHP, one managed care organization (MCO) will administer the entire system of behavioral healthcare for Idaho, including Idahoans who have Medicaid, other types of health insurance, and those who do not have health insurance. The IBHP consolidates behavioral health inpatient, outpatient, and other publicly funded services under this one MCO and aims to improve coordination of care and reduce fragmentation as members shift between outpatient and inpatient services.
  • Mississippi – CMS approved a state plan amendment in Mississippi that allows the Division of Medicaid to include enrollees diagnosed with hemophilia in the MississippiCAN program, effective July 1, 2023.
  • New Jersey – The Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, December 19 at 12:00 p.m. ET to discuss the steps New Jersey is taking to improve affordability and accessibility, address cost, and highlight the program to measure cost growth trends and produce data on healthcare cost drivers. During the webinar, Heather Howard and New Jersey Citizen Action will discuss the real-life impacts of healthcare costs on consumers in anticipation of initial baseline performance and cost driver reports that will be released in 2024.
  • New Mexico – The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) published the New Mexico Maternal Mortality Review Committee’s Annual Report. Using data from 2015 through 2020, the report shows 86% of pregnancy-related maternal deaths in New Mexico were preventable, with Medicaid enrollees accounting for the majority of deaths. Among other DOH maternal mortality prevention activities, the state received a five-year federal grant that will support a new maternal health task force.
  • New York – Governor Kathy Hochul announced that more than $17.7 million was awarded to expand HealthySteps, an evidence-based program that pairs behavioral health professionals with pediatric teams to provide early childhood mental and physical healthcare in a pediatric setting. Administered by the state Office of Mental Health, the additional funding will help create 46 new pediatric sites.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has launched a performance dashboard for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The dashboard provides information on contact volume, answer rates, speed of answer, age ranges and reasons for calling. It also indicates call volume for specific populations, including those who reach out to the Spanish call center, Veterans Crisis Line, and the LGBTQ+ youth and young adult line.
  • North Dakota – The North Dakota Health and Human Services Medical Services Division is seeking public comment on the 2024 draft of the North Dakota Medicaid Quality Strategy Plan. The comprehensive plan includes monitoring and ongoing process improvement to ensure Medicaid members receive quality healthcare and services that support their overall health and wellbeing.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Health Authority announced plans to offer free opioid overdose reversal kits to middle and high schools throughout the state. Every middle and high school is eligible to receive up to three opioid overdose reversal kits. The kits contain a wall mounted naloxone box, instructions, emergency medical supplies, and eight doses of the opioid antagonist, naloxone nasal spray.
  • Pennsylvania – Department of Human Services Secretary, Dr. Val Arkoosh, announced the opening of a public comment period for a proposed section 1115 demonstration titled “Bridges to Success: Keystones of Health for Pennsylvania,” which proposes expanding opportunities in the Medicaid program to include services that address health-related social needs. Keystones of Health aims to address the healthcare needs of Pennsylvanians in four main areas: reentry support, housing support, food and nutrition supports, and continuous coverage for children under age six.
  • Washington – The Office of the Insurance Commissioner delivered a preliminary report to legislators describing the current state of Washington’s healthcare system. The report explores recent market consolidation and a process for evaluating changes that could improve affordability. The final report is due to the legislature in August 2024.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is transitioning its eligibility system for family assistance programs to an integrated system called West Virginia People’s Access to Help (WV PATH). DHHR programs supported by the WV PATH system include Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, TANF, and other state-operated assistance programs. To ensure a successful statewide transition in spring of 2024, DHHR will launch a pilot on December 4 for employees in several counties to utilize the new system.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Department of Justice announced a series of roundtable discussions to hear directly from local communities who are working toward preventing overdose deaths in the state and helping Wisconsinites struggling with opioid-use.