July 27 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Public Health Emergency Renewal
  • COVID-19 State Updates: ME, MN, MT, NC, OR & WA
  • Other State Updates: DC, OK, OR & WI
  • Fiscal Effect of Temporary Increase in Medicaid FMAP
  • Effect of State Budget Crises on Medicaid
  • State Programs to Support Children During COVID-19


Public Health Emergency Renewal

As a result of the continued consequences of COVID-19, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced yesterday that he is renewing the Public Health Emergency (PHE) Declaration effective Saturday, July 25. The PHE is now set to expire on Thursday, October 22 absent another renewal. The State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) resource Federal Declarations and Flexibilities Supporting Medicaid and CHIP COVID-19 Response Efforts: Effective and Expiration Dates table has been updated to reflect the PHE renewal. The table summarizes the time frames for the effective dates and current expiration timelines for various emergency measures. These dates are subject to change as federal and state officials take actions to renew or terminate particular authorities.

In case you missed it, SHVS hosted part two of its two part Preparing for OEP 2021 webinar series on Wednesday. The second webinar provided a deeper dive into effective strategies for states to consider as they design their outreach and education campaigns for open enrollment period 2021 in a shifting health care environment. The slide deck includes an additional resource slide that provides state-specific examples of communications and messaging materials from the state speakers. Slide decks and recordings of both webinars are now available on the SHVS website.


COVID-19 State Updates: ME, MN, MT, NC, OR & WA

  • Maine – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced four additional COVID-19 “swab and send” testing sites, the award of $1 million in federal funding to rural hospitals to increase its labs’ capacity to process COVID-19 tests, and a second round of grants to municipalities to support local COVID-19 public health, education, and prevention efforts.
  • Minnesota – The state announced that it continues to make progress on Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan’s five-point plan to limit and stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. The plan includes developing new testing criteria, implementing a nurse triage line, and using a scheduling software to connect facilities with staffing needs to available staff.
  • Montana – The Department of Public Health and Human Services announced $33 million in new grant funding for Montana behavioral health providers affected by COVID-19. The grants aim to retain existing programs and services, employees, or organizational viability for provision of future services and operations. Funding is being made available through the CARES Act.
  • North Carolina
    • Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) approved a third vendor to expand free COVID-19 testing to historically marginalized communities that have limited testing sites. Under the new contract, testing will be provided in 23 ZIP codes as part of the NCDHHS effort to increase access to no-cost COVID-19 testing for African American, Latinx/Hispanic, and American Indian communities.
    • NCDHHS unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard that includes more granular information about hospital capacity and hospitalization trends, both statewide and broken down by region.
  • Oregon
    • The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced the launch of a new program to fund community based organizations (CBOs) to help respond to COVID-19 in culturally and linguistically responsive ways. OHA will provide 173 CBOs located in every county in the state with $9.4 million in CARES Act funds.
    • To help Oregonians understand face covering requirements, the OHA has created a website resource that provides the latest information about face coverings and masks, from requirements to frequently asked questions (FAQ) to tips about how to effectively wear them.
    • OHA announced the publication of a COVID-19 test site locator to help Oregonians across the state find testing sites in their community. The interactive map is available on pages in both English and Spanish and can be toggled into multiple other languages.
  • Washington
    • The Office of the Insurance Commissioner published an FAQ document on COVID-19 testing in light of new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Departments of Labor and Treasury.
    • Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. The order is in effect until August 16.


Other State Updates: DC, OK, OR & WI

  • District of Columbia – The Department of Health Care Finance announced a notice of intent to award three contracts for the District’s Medicaid managed care program. The proposed awardees are AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia, Inc., MedStar Family Choice, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Plan District of Columbia.
  • Oklahoma – Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is seeking stakeholder input for the state’s Medicaid program design before finalizing a request for proposals for SoonerCare. OHCA is accepting responses from any interested party, including individuals and program participants and providers.
  • Oregon – OHA has released its annual Oregon Hospital Payment report as an online dashboard. The report details the median amounts paid by commercial insurers for the most common inpatient and outpatient procedures performed in Oregon hospitals in 2018.
  • Wisconsin – The Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices held a two-day virtual hearing. Day one of the convening focused on consumer discount programs and other efforts to increase prescription drug affordability, while the topics of day two were how prescription drug costs have affected vulnerable populations and what strategies have been employed by other states to lower their costs.


How Much Fiscal Relief Can States Expect From the Temporary Increase in the Medicaid FMAP?

new brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation examines how much fiscal relief states can expect from the increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act under different assumptions about the duration of the relief, how the FMAP increase provides broad fiscal relief to states, and the factors that affect how much relief is available across states. The analysis notes that states could receive a total of $54.6 billion if the relief is in place through June 2021 (the end of state fiscal year 2021 for most states) and $64 billion if in place through September 2021 (the end of the federal fiscal year 2021). Furthermore, expected increases in enrollment could offset a large share of the fiscal relief.


With Need Rising, Medicaid Is at Risk for Cuts

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities published a new brief that examines preliminary Medicaid data for a subset of states to understand the effect of the state fiscal crisis and enrollment on state Medicaid programs. The analysis finds that in some states, enrollment is rising, signaling a growing need for health insurance as the pandemic continues. This need coincides with unprecedented state budget crises—states are facing estimated cumulative budget shortfalls of $555 billion from state fiscal years 2020 to 2022. The authors provide examples of actions states have taken to address the shortfalls, making critical cuts to Medicaid and non-Medicaid health programs. For those interested, SHVS also has an expert perspective titled An Early Look at State Budget Actions in Response to COVID-19 and the Impact on State Health Programs.


Highlights from the States: Innovating Programs to Support Children During COVID-19

Families USA recently released a short analysis highlighting how states are working to ensure children and families are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current research, children are less likely than adults to contract COVID-19 or to have significant health consequences because of a COVID-19 infection. However, children have been affected by the pandemic with consequences to their physical, social, and emotional development, including missing scheduled vaccinations, well-child visits, and other routine health services. Since the pandemic began, a number of states have made important administrative changes to support children and families. This analysis highlights some of the innovative policy changes that could serve as models for other states.