February 22 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • New CMS Administrator Announced
  • Toolkit for Managing Medicaid Costs
  • COVID-19 State Updates: CA, ID, KS, NC, NJ, NY, PA
  • Other State Updates: AL, AZ, NV, OK
  • Webinar: Health Disparities in Medicaid Managed Care
  • Equitable Vaccination Campaigns
  • Strategies for Buying Health


New CMS Administrator Announced

Last week, President Biden announced he will nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Brooks-LaSure has authored several pieces for State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS), including Medicaid/CHIP and Marketplace Interactions in COVID-19 and State Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to Advance Health Equity, and has worked closely with states on the role of Medicaid in addressing the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis and the design of Medicaid buy-in programs.


Toolkit for Managing Medicaid Costs

Also last week, SHVS published a new toolkit, A Better Way to Manage Medicaid Costs. As governors work with their legislatures on budgets for fiscal year 2022, the toolkit outlines state options to address Medicaid spending without harming enrollee health, provider stability, or access to care. SHVS also reviewed how some states have responded to the COVID-19 recession and the implications for state health programs in a recent expert perspective.


COVID-19 State Updates: CA, ID, KS, NC, NJ, NY, PA

  • California
    • Covered California launched a new television ad campaign to reach uninsured Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ads began airing this week in California’s biggest media markets (in both English and Spanish) to make sure that consumers know that enrollment is open due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Biden-Harris Administration announced the opening of community vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles. The two sites chosen for these efforts are in some of the most diverse and socioeconomically challenged communities in the country. The goal of establishing these federal pilot sites is to continue to expand the rate of vaccinations in California in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner, with an explicit focus on making sure that communities with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection are not left behind.
  • Idaho – Your Health Idaho announced that a Special Enrollment Period will be established from March 1 to March 31 for eligible uninsured Idahoans to sign up for health insurance coverage. With this announcement, Idaho joins the federal marketplace and other state-based marketplaces in giving consumers more time to enroll in 2021 coverage.
  • Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly announced new steps to address data reporting issues that have inaccurately identified the number of individuals vaccinated for COVID-19 in Kansas. These steps, developed in partnership with providers, include introducing a new daily reporting snapshot, improving existing reporting by requiring the use of a template Excel file, and addressing underlying technical and data transfer issues.  
  • New Jersey – Gov. Phil Murphy announced the launch of a community-based vaccination partnership to provide equitable access of the COVID-19 vaccine to underresourced communities throughout New Jersey. The community-based vaccination sites are supported through a partnership by the New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Department of Defense, in addition to local faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, local officials, and health departments. 
  • New York – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York’s health insurance open enrollment period will be further extended to May 15, aligning with states across the country.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services added new resources to its Spanish language COVID-19 vaccination website, Protégete a ti y a los demás. ¡VACÚNATE!, including a new video on COVID-19 vaccines and tools for understanding vaccination groups and finding locations to get vaccinated.
  • Pennsylvania – First Lady Frances Wolf addressed mental health, trauma, and equity during COVID-19 in a virtual conversation hosted on Facebook. This was the third conversation in the series “The Bigger Picture,” an extension of One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views that homes in on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists, which included senior state leadership, shed light on how matters of mental health, trauma, and equity have been amplified during the pandemic and highlighted state and community-based resources available to individuals in need of crisis counseling, mental or emotional support, and addiction treatment.


Other State Updates: AL, AZ, NV, OK

  • Alabama – The Alabama Medicaid Agency sent a formal letter to CMS to request to withdraw its Section 1115 demonstration waiver application, “Alabama Medicaid Workforce Initiative,” which was originally submitted in June 2018.
  • Arizona – Health Current, Arizona’s health information exchange, announced the selection of NowPow as the vendor of choice for Arizona’s closed loop referral system to address social determinants of health needs in Arizona. By connecting health care and community service providers on a single statewide technology platform, this new service promises to streamline the referral process, foster easier access to vital services, and provide confirmation when social services are delivered.
  • Nevada — The State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services issued a Request for Proposals to provide comprehensive Pharmacy Benefits Management services to the state’s Medicaid fee-for-service and the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program populations.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) selected three qualified dental managed care organizations, also known as Dental Benefit Plans (DBP), to execute the dental component of the OHCA comprehensive managed care delivery system for certain SoonerCare members. The DBPs will assign dental homes to members, which will redirect members from using emergency department services, increase preventive care, reduce the need for high-cost restorative procedures, and have the ability to improve providers and specialist networks. 


Webinar: Analyzing Health Disparities in Medicaid Managed Care

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, SHVS is hosting a webinar on analyzing health disparities in Medicaid managed care. Health disparities are a key indicator of health equity, and understanding health care disparities is a critical component of informing systems changes to improve health care outcomes. Stratifying performance data by race, ethnicity, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation can inform targeted interventions to reduce health care disparities, yet many states lack complete and reliable data to do so. During the webinar, experts from Bailit Health will discuss how states can use performance rates and disparities analyses from Medicaid managed care programs in other states to determine where disparities are likely to exist in their own state and develop interventions. Attendees will also hear from Dr. Lisa Albers at the California Department of Health Care Services about California’s experience analyzing Medi-CAL HEDIS data to identify health care disparities and establish performance improvement expectations for Medi-CAL plans. To request accommodations due to disability for this event, please contact Stephanie Benjamin (stephanie.benjamin@princeton.edu) at least 48 hours in advance.

Registration (required) at the following link: https://rwjfevents.webex.com/rwjfevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e6927c49688205bc92c6f293e0c180b3d


Equity in Vaccination: A Plan to Work with Communities of Color

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a plan that provides elected and appointed officials with the tools to create, implement, and support a vaccination campaign that works with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues, it is critical that vaccines be delivered fairly and equitably so that everyone has the same level of access to this life-saving technology. Just as pressing is the need to address the longstanding disparities that have created the unequal situation that BIPOC communities are now in. The plan identifies action items to remedy the effects of COVID-19, prevent even more health burdens, lay the foundation for unbiased health care delivery, and enable broader social change and community-level opportunities.


Strategies for States Looking to Buy Health, Not Just Health Care

Over the past decade, policymakers and industry leaders have pursued significant changes in the way that health care is delivered and paid for, moving away from incentivizing volume and high-cost interventions and instead linking payment more closely to “value.” Yet improvement in health care is not enough to improve health. Health outcomes stem in part from socioeconomic, environmental and behavioral factors—such as homelessness, food insecurity, exposure to intimate partner violence, adverse childhood experiences, and racism—collectively referred to as drivers of health. A new report developed by Manatt Health, The Health Initiative, The Commonwealth Fund, and the Blue Shield of California Foundation outlines seven strategies for states to leverage their purchasing power, regulatory authority, interagency partnerships, and bully pulpit to help change the paradigm of what the health system can and should achieve.