February 14 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Health equity and 1115 waivers
  • Building Racial Equity into Medicaid
  • State Updates: CA, CO, DE, MA, NY, OR & PA
  • Data for Community Health Affinity Groups
  • Comparing Federal Surveys That Count the Uninsured
  • Improving Substance Use Services for Youth

Centering Health Equity in Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations

SHVS published a new series, Centering Health Equity in Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations, which examines the role of Medicaid Section 1115 demonstrations in advancing health equity. The series consists of two issue briefs, Centering Health Equity in Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstrations: A Roadmap for States and a companion issue brief, Centering Health Equity in Medicaid: Section 1115 Demonstration Strategies.

Building Racial Equity into Medicaid

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS) published a report, Building Racial Equity into the Walls of Minnesota Medicaid: A focus on U.S.-born Black Minnesotans. The report was developed through an iterative process that involved members of the U.S.-born Black community in Minnesota, MN DHS staff and other Minnesotans working with the Black community and towards the goal of greater racial and health equity in Minnesota. We have added the report to our health equity resource page which serves as an accessible one-stop source of health equity information for states. Updates follow.

All In: Data for Community Health Affinity Groups

All In: Data for Community Health is launching the next round of their Affinity Groups this coming spring. The groups are designed to foster peer learning and sharing on specific topics within data-sharing and multi-sector collaborations. Indicate your interest in participating in the Affinity Groups via this survey by February 16. Topics under consideration include: centering racial equity throughout data integration; civic data/residential-led data collection to drive action; collaborative governance models and centering community voices; data law/navigating legalities of multi-sector data sharing, navigating consent, or technical assistance; data sharing to reduce infant and maternal health disparities; re-imagining technology in support of cross-sector referral and care coordination; leveraging health and housing data integration to achieve positive outcomes for vulnerable populations; and policy and multi-sector data sharing.

Comparing Federal Government Surveys That Count the Uninsured

The State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) has updated their annual brief Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count the Uninsured following the release of new insurance coverage estimates from surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the brief, SHADAC presents current and historical national estimates of uninsurance along with the most recent available state-level estimates from these surveys. The brief also discusses the main reasons for variation in the estimates across the different surveys as well as possible reasons for the incomparability of estimates across and within the surveys. The authors also include a brief overview of the unique challenges faced by each agency due to pandemic-related disruptions, how the agencies addressed and compensated for these challenges, and what these impacts mean in terms of utilizing survey data on health insurance coverage for 2020.

Improving Substance Use Services for Youth

A new research report from the Urban Institute highlights policy opportunities for state Medicaid and CHIP agencies to improve substance use services for youth. Given Medicaid’s dominant role as a payer for substance use services and insurer for a large share of adolescents and young adults, state Medicaid, and CHIP agencies have a tremendous opportunity to transform substance use services to more effectively and equitably support the successful development and well-being of youth enrollees. Drawing on data from an environmental scan and discussions with subject matter experts, the brief highlights strategies and policies that could help the programs promote prevention and early intervention, improve youth substance use services, and expand access to care in schools and the community.

State Updates 

  • California
    • The California Department of Health Care Services released a request for proposals (RFP) for the Medi-Cal managed care plans procurement. The purpose of the RFP is to solicit proposals from firms that are able to provide managed health care services to Medi-Cal enrollees, the state’s Medicaid program. The RFP will be used to procure commercial health plans in the following plan model types: Two-Plan Model; Geographic Managed Care; and Regional Model. 
    • Governor Newsom signed legislation extending COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for workers. The legislation ensures that employees continue to have access to up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through September 30, 2022, which may be used by employees who have been advised to quarantine, those caring for COVID-impacted family members, attending a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, and more.
  • Colorado – The state launched a new tax time enrollment period for health coverage. Starting this tax season, residents can mark on their Colorado tax return that they are uninsured and interested in finding out if they qualify for free or low-cost health coverage. By doing so, uninsured tax filers opt-in to share their information with Connect for Health Colorado, the official health insurance marketplace. They can then qualify for a special enrollment period with Connect for Health Colorado or be connected to coverage with Health First Colorado. Residents must file their Colorado state tax return and select the new checkbox option on their return by April 15 to qualify for this special enrollment period.
  • Delaware – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services announced that during Delaware’s ninth open enrollment period, a total of 32,113 Delawareans enrolled for health insurance on HealthCare.gov, an all-time high, increasing 26.8 percent over the open enrollment total for 2021.
  • Massachusetts – The state launched a new program to simplify sign up for coverage through Massachusetts Health Connector, the official health insurance marketplace. Uninsured Massachusetts residents can check a box on their state tax forms to quickly start the process of getting health insurance. By checking the box on the tax form, individuals authorize the Department of Revenue to communicate select elements of the tax filer’s information with the Health Connector. The Health Connector will use this information to create and send tailored information to the tax filer, and to work with residents towards obtaining the most appropriate health plan.
  • New York – NY State of Health, the state’s official insurance marketplace, has launched a new campaign to encourage consumers to “stay connected” by signing up for text messages so they will know when it is time to renew their health insurance. The advertisements also encourage New Yorkers to update their information in their NY State of Health accounts. After the federal PHE ends, consumers will once again need to take action to keep their coverage. This campaign is the first step NY State of Health is taking to connect with consumers regarding this change and help them avoid a coverage gap. 
  • Oregon
    • The Oregon Health Authority announced that its biannual Oregon Health Insurance Survey data showed a record-high 95.4 percent of people in Oregon had health coverage in 2021, up from 94 percent in 2019. This was the first year since the ACA expansion that insurance coverage increased significantly. The gains were driven largely by federal pandemic rule changes for Medicaid, which ensured that people enrolled in Medicaid coverage stayed covered. 
    • The Oregon Health Authority announced that it will not seek a renewal of its long-standing waiver regarding the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) services benefit for children and adolescents in its upcoming 1115(a) Medicaid waiver renewal application. After careful consideration of community input and a comprehensive internal review, this change will assure that, as required by federal law, children covered under the Oregon Health Plan will have the right to an individual consideration of medical necessity to take into account their individual circumstances, including their developmental stage.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Wolf signed legislation that requires the Department of Health to establish and maintain a toolkit to provide information on the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The toolkit aims to promote better understanding of the importance of early detection among healthcare workers and the public and promote information about diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.