July 19 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • HealthCare.gov SEP Enrollment Numbers
  • Advancing Equity in Telehealth
  • State Updates: AZ, DC, DE, ID, KS, MD, NC, NJ, NY & WI
  • Funding Opportunity for Substance Use Crisis Response
  • Streamlining Benefits Access Systems
  • Innovations in Medicaid Managed Care Webinar Series


More Than 2 Million Insured Via Special Enrollment Period

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new enrollment numbers for HealthCare.gov that show 1.5 million Americans signed up for coverage since the special enrollment period began on February 15. An additional 600,000 people have enrolled in coverage since the start of the SEP through State-based Marketplaces, bringing the total of Americans who enrolled during the SEP to over two million. The June Enrollment Report illustrates that among new and returning consumers who selected a plan since April 1, 1.2 million consumers (34 percent) chose one that costs $10 or less per month after the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) premium reductions. The SEP has been extended to August 15, 2021. 


Advancing Equity in Telehealth

State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) published a new expert perspective, Considerations for Telehealth Equity. Since March 2020, many states have rapidly leveraged federal and state flexibilities under the public health emergency to expand telehealth capabilities and reimbursement through both public and private payers. Now, some states are extending telehealth for the long term or expanding their existing telehealth programs. SHVS’s new expert perspective highlights considerations for states to maximize the potential of telehealth care to improve equity. 


State Updates: 


  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) submitted a proposal to CMS detailing the agency’s plan for reinvesting federal funding made available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The spending plan includes strategies that seek to strengthen AHCCCS’ existing home-and community-based services program and includes feedback from AHCCCS members and families, other state agencies, contracted managed care organizations, health care providers, and other key stakeholders.
  • Delaware – The Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA) is beginning to identify managed care organizations to operate its Medicaid managed care program beginning January 1, 2023. DMMA will host four virtual town hall meetings to get input on goals and procurement priorities for the managed care delivery system.
  • District of Columbia — The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board unanimously voted to adopt recommendations from its Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group in an effort to stop racism in health care. These recommendations are focused on three crucial areas in order to establish practices, structures, and policies that can be implemented by DCHBX and DC Health Link health plans. The proposals aim to (1) expand access to providers and health systems for communities of color, (2) eliminate health outcome disparities for communities of color, and (3) ensure equitable treatment for patients of color in health care settings and the delivery of health care services. 
  • Idaho – Members of the Idaho Behavioral Health Council presented the council’s first strategic plan to Governor Brad Little, Idaho House and Senate leadership, and the Idaho Supreme Court. The plan includes a set of 34 recommendations to improve access to care, with nine identified as key priorities for the next three years.
  • KansasGovernor Laura Kelly announced that her Commission on Racial Equity and Justice has released its second report, which provides recommendations on how Kansas can improve racial equity around the social determinants of health. The recommendations address teacher diversity, tax policy, early childhood education, and maternal and child health.
  • Maryland – Governor Larry Hogan, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Disabilities, announced the release of the new Maryland State Disabilities Plan. The State Disabilities Plan calls for the coordination of those state services and policies that ensure compliance with state and federal civil rights laws and will provide community-based supports, emergency preparedness, housing, transportation, employment, health care, accessible technology, education, and family support to Marylanders with disabilities. The plan also provides a framework for delivering, monitoring, and striving to improve these services. Progress is measured annually by the Maryland Department of Disabilities.
  • New JerseyThe New Jersey Department of Health launched a new app that makes it easier for individuals and families vaccinated in the state to access their COVID-19 vaccination record digitally. The free New Jersey consumer access Docket app is now available. 
  • New York
    • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that applications are now open for the New York State Public Health Corps Fellowship Program. The initiative will assist with immediate COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts and strengthen local and statewide workforce capacities required to respond to future public health emergencies. This program will provide up to 1,000 full-time, paid positions with placements at the New York State Department of Health, local health departments (except for New York City), or other public health partners throughout the state.
    • Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation enacting “Lian’s Law,” authorizing the Department of Health to add information about preeclampsia—including detection, risk factors, and possible options for treatments—to its health care and wellness education and outreach program. 
  • North CarolinaThe North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services expanded its vaccine data dashboard to include vaccination information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Indian Health Service. The new data provides a more accurate representation of how many North Carolinians have been vaccinated.
  • Wisconsin
    • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) submitted a plan to CMS to use ARPA funds to improve and enhance Wisconsin’s home-and community-based services under Medicaid. DHS estimates it will receive approximately $350 million under this part of the act. Key components of the plan that support Wisconsin’s caregiving workforce include increasing rates for home-and community-based services and expanding the professional advancement opportunities for the workers who provide these services.
    • DHS awarded over $1 million to nine organizations for projects designed to improve the cultural competence of service providers. These grants are funded by Wisconsin’s share of the federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.
    • Governor Tony Evers and DHS announced the launch of Our Doctors, a statewide multimedia campaign that brings together health care professionals across the state of Wisconsin from different health systems and specialties to share their confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. This campaign encourages Wisconsinites who may be hesitant about vaccines to start a conversation with their family doctor about the COVID-19 vaccines.


CMS Announces Funding Opportunity for States to Address Substance Use and Mental Health Crisis Care 

CMS announced a $15 million competitive funding opportunity to support state Medicaid agencies to develop the new Medicaid option created by Section 9813 of the ARPA to provide qualifying community mobile crisis intervention services for five years beginning in April 2022 via Medicaid state plan amendments, Section 1115 demonstrations, or Section 1915(b) or 1915(c) waiver programs. States that provide qualifying mobile crisis intervention services per ARPA requirements may receive an 85 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentage for associated expenditures for the first 12 quarters of the designated period. CMS also intends to release a separate State Health Official Letter to guide states on requirements for the state option to provide qualifying community mobile crisis intervention services. To be considered for a grant, states must submit a non-binding letter of intent to apply by July 23 and send an application by August 13. 


Related resources: American Rescue Plan’s New State Option for Community-Based Mobile Crisis Interventions // American Rescue Plan Provides a New Opportunity for States to Invest in Equitable, Comprehensive and Integrated Crisis Services


Streamlining Benefits Access Systems: Technical Assistance Opportunity

Benefits Data Trust released a Request for Information (RFI) to identify and support states interested in streamlining their benefits access system to eligible beneficiaries, thereby improving health outcomes, increasing economic mobility, and driving towards a robust post-COVID recovery. BDT has significant funding to support multiple states with efforts including data-matching to identify people likely eligible for benefits such as SNAP, WIC, and Medicaid data-driven outreach to inform people how to apply and recertify for benefits; and policy and practice consulting/technical assistance to support states benefits access and streamlining goals. Additionally, BDT will provide financial support and technical assistance to two states wishing to initiate, accelerate, and/or scale comprehensive improvements to dramatically streamline access to benefits. Note that RFI responses are due by Monday, July 26th at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.


Innovations in Medicaid Managed Care Webinar Series

Beginning July 2021, with the support of the MolinaCares Accord, the NORC MCO Learning Hub will be hosting a new six-part quarterly webinar series highlighting innovations in Medicaid. The webinar series will include national experts discussing the latest trends, initiatives, programs, and findings on timely topics important to improving the Medicaid program and meeting the needs of enrollees. The premier webinar will provide insights on the nationwide substance use disorder (SUD) epidemic and how providers and MCOs are working together in new ways. For example, the session will cover how Medicaid agencies and MCOs are responding to the increased SUD need and highlight an innovative solution for providing an on-demand SUD treatment program via telemedicine to Medicaid enrollees. Subscribe to the NORC MCO Learning Hub listserv to receive future webinar registration information and notifications on new content.