July 6 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • New SHVS Expert Perspective
  • Data and Equitable Policy During COVID-19
  • COVID-19 State Updates: DE, OR & VA
  • Other State Updates: AZ, GA, MN, NE & OK
  • Webinar: Ensuring Access to LTSS During COVID-19
  • JHPPL Special Edition on ACA 10th Anniversary
  • Key Considerations for Governors to Scale the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Workforce

 

New SHVS Expert Perspective

Last week State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) published a new expert perspective, An Early Look at State Budget Actions in Response to COVID-19 and the Impact on State Health Programs. This expert perspective provides a snapshot of how states are navigating the fiscal challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the face of declining revenues, rising spending demands, and balanced budget requirements. The strategies that states employ to address the fiscal fallout of COVID-19 will have significant and long-lasting implications for critical health care and safety net programs.

 

Data and Equitable Policy During COVID-19

In case you missed it, Dr. Richard Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, wrote an op-ed explaining how data can help manage the COVID-19 public health emergency and guide reopening efforts in an equitable way. Dr. Besser notes how data collection can provide a “detailed road map” to inform decisionmaking and ensure the consequences of reopening do not fall hardest on vulnerable populations. For an overview of how all 50 states are reporting their COVID-19 data, see the SHVS expert perspective on Advances in States’ Reporting of COVID-19 Health Equity Data.

 

COVID-19 State Updates: DE, OR & VA

  • Delaware – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) announced that emergency benefits will be issued to participants of Delaware’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for June as part of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. DHSS will issue emergency benefits to any household not already receiving the maximum monthly SNAP benefit.
  • Oregon – New modeling shows the novel coronavirus spreading more rapidly in Oregon, according to the latest model released by the Oregon Health Authority and the Institute for Disease Modeling. The model, which is based on data through June 18, offers three projections—optimistic, moderate, and pessimistic—predicting that daily case levels could rise as much as 20 percentage points.
  • Virginia – The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services announced that Governor Ralph Northam approved an estimated $30 million in emergency support for primary care doctors, pediatricians, and other providers of general health care services to Medicaid members. The plan redirects existing dollars in the fiscal year 2020 state budget to fund a 29 percent rate increase for office visits related to the evaluation and management of chronic conditions and other health needs.

 

Other State Updates: AZ, GA, MN, NE & OK

  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System announced a contract award for maintenance and operations of the Health-e-Arizona Plus eligibility and enrollment system to Accenture. The contract award is $39 million over five years for maintenance and operations of the system and $82 million over five years for new development and infrastructure that may occur over the term of the contract, for a total award of $121 million.
  • Georgia – Governor Brian P. Kemp signed the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget, which includes $19 million in new funding to offer six months of postpartum Medicaid coverage, effective upon approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Earlier this year, SHVS released an issue brief on Medicaid’s Crucial Role in Combatting the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Crisis, which includes a discussion of strategies to extend Medicaid coverage postpartum.
  • Minnesota – The Minnesota Insulin Safety Net Program launched July 1, allowing Minnesotans in urgent need of insulin (less than a seven-day supply on hand) to access the life-saving drug through their pharmacy. The program—implemented by MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace, and the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy—was created to help Minnesotans facing difficulty affording their insulin.
  • Nebraska – The Division of Behavioral Health at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is seeking recommendations for updates to its behavioral health service definitions, which are the standards of care that specify requirements for service delivery funded by the Division of Behavioral Health. The service definitions will be divided into categories, and public comment periods will be six weeks in duration for each category.
  • Oklahoma – Voters approved a ballot measure on June 30 which adds a provision to the Oklahoma Constitution requiring the state to expand Medicaid coverage. The amendment requires the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to submit a State Plan Amendment and other necessary documents to CMS within 90 days of the ballot measure’s approval, and for expansion coverage to begin no later than July 1, 2021.

 

Webinar: Ensuring Access to LTSS During COVID-19

Friday, July 10, 2020, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST.

State Health & Value Strategies is hosting a webinar during which experts from Manatt Health will present key findings from a new COVID-19 state resource guide, funded by The SCAN Foundation. In the resource guide, Manatt Health identifies federal and state Medicaid flexibilities available to state officials and other stakeholders and how those flexibilities are being deployed during COVID-19 to help ensure access to long-term services and supports (LTSS). The resource guide highlights examples of how states are ensuring continued access to LTSS by expanding the types of settings in which services can be delivered, bolstering pay and other supports for LTSS providers, and addressing barriers to care created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states are turning their attention to considering which flexibilities they want to “unwind,” which they want to retain to respond to future COVID-19 outbreaks or other public health emergencies, and which they want to make permanent to strengthen and improve LTSS care delivery. This webinar will provide examples of how states are approaching these questions.

Registration (required) at the following link: https://rwjfevents.webex.com/rwjfevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=eb37d943dfcf497985c82cdc6bafa0d3d

 

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law ACA 10th Anniversary Special Edition

The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law released a special edition of its publication in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The entire issue is free to access, and the featured articles highlight the ACA’s effects, performance, and evolution over the last decade. The authors examine the ACA in the context of critical health policy issues, including racial and ethnic disparities, cost control, evidence-based medicine, long-term care, and economic effects. In particular, the article The Potential and Realized Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Health Equity discusses seven ACA provisions with regard to their intended and realized effect on social inequalities in health, focusing primarily on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities.

 

Key Steps and Considerations for Governors to Rapidly Scale the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Workforce

The National Governors Association released an issue brief detailing six key steps for building and supporting a contact tracing workforce to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. Contact tracing is an effective public health strategy that has been used successfully for decades to limit the spread of diseases. However, increasing these efforts to the degree needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 will require an unprecedented scaling of workforce, technology, and infrastructure to support those with COVID-19 and warning all possible contacts of potential exposure to break the chain of transmission. With the urgent need to rapidly hire and train the contact tracing workforce, governors, state health officials, and state workforce boards have the opportunity to collaborate and align efforts by retraining and reemploying dislocated workers as contact tracers, potentially providing on-ramps into longer-term education and career pathways in public health.