June 15 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • HHS Announces New Release of Provider Relief Funds
  • Webinar: Rethinking Telehealth After the COVID-19 Surge
  • COVID-19 State Updates: CO, MA, MD, ME, NY, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI 
  • Other State Updates: AZ, CO, KS & MD
  • Medicaid May Shape Marketplace Entry of Insurers
  • Electronic Consultations: A Win for Patients, Clinicians, and Payers
  • Addressing Child Poverty after COVID-19


HHS Announces New Release of Provider Relief Funds

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $15 billion allocation through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) from the Provider Relief Fund to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers that have not received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation. In updated Provider Relief Fund FAQs published last week, HHS reiterated its payment methodology. The Urban Institute has a blog post that analyzes the distribution of Provider Relief Funds to date.


Webinar: Rethinking Telehealth After the COVID-19 Surge

Last week, State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) hosted a webinar, Virtual Care Post-Apex: Rethinking Telehealth Policy After the COVID-19 Surge, during which experts from Manatt Health and Georgetown reviewed the current telehealth policy landscape and considerations for states as they design their post-apex telehealth policies. If you missed the webinar, SHVS published the slides on its website and will post a recording early next week.


COVID-19 State Updates: CO, MA, MD, ME, NY, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI 

  • Colorado – The Department of Health Care Policy & Financing announced it is anticipating more than 500,000 Coloradans will enroll in Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in the coming months. The expected surge represents an increase of more than 40 percent from the 1.3 million Coloradans enrolled as of March 2020. The release noted that the projected increase will be due to increasing unemployment, the loss of employer-sponsored insurance, and the public health emergency.
  • Maine – MaineCare released new and updated guidance for MaineCare providers. The Alternate Settings Guidance has been updated to reflect the process for using nonemergency transportation services. The COVID-19 Coding and Billing Guidance includes information about testing, diagnosis, and treatment services for MaineCare members. Also, new codes have been added to the COVID-19 Codes for Uninsured Individuals document as they are now available for billing.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is reminding uninsured Marylanders to enroll in coverage before the June 15 deadline through the state’s health insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, under the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period (SEP). To date, nearly 40,000 residents have received health coverage during this SEP.
  • Massachusetts
    • The Baker-Polito Administration announced $41 million to address urgent food insecurity for Massachusetts residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding implements the recommendations of the Food Security Task Force, which was convened by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center in response to increased demands for food assistance.
    • Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation which will allow for the collection and publication of additional data to understand the impact of COVID-19 on underserved and underrepresented populations. The legislation amends the existing reporting law and codifies that health care providers and laboratories are responsible for reporting COVID-19 data to the Department of Public Health in a complete and timely manner.
  • New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo accepted all of the recommendations from a report by the state’s COVID-19 Domestic Violence Task Force on better serving domestic violence survivors. The governor is directing the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, along with other sister agencies, to use these recommendations to update and improve domestic violence services in New York and use tools including mobile advocacy, flexible funding, and housing choice to meet the needs of these individuals.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Tom Wolf announced that his administration launched an enhanced dashboard to pull Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 data and information together to inform Pennsylvanians. The dashboard further enhances data on demographics of cases, demographics of deaths, and the reopening status, including graphical representation of race and ethnicity data.
  • Rhode Island – The Department of Human Services announced that as of June 10, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are able to select and pay for their groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and at participating Walmart stores.
  • Utah – The Utah Department of Health announced that Utah Medicaid will now cover COVID-19-related diagnostic testing and services for uninsured individuals. This new program will be effective June 1 through the duration of the public health emergency. Covered services include COVID-19 testing as well as serological tests to determine the presence of the virus antibodies. Related services covered include the administration of the test and evaluations related to testing, such as X-rays.
  • Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam extended two executive orders to bolster the health care workforce and give flexibility to Medicaid providers. Executive Order 57 allows for the expanded use of telehealth and authorizes out-of-state licensees to provide in-state care at hospitals, nursing facilities, dialysis facilities, physician offices, and other health care facilities. Executive Order 58 helps ensure Medicaid members have continued access to care during the ongoing public health emergency.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced more households will now be able to get food through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Households with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level are now eligible to receive a monthly share of locally grown, Grade-A foods from a TEFAP food pantry.


Other State Updates: AZ, CO, KS & MD

  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is seeking recommendations on its quality metrics dashboard reporting for behavioral and physical health for the next three years (Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2023).
  • Colorado – The Division of Insurance is drafting a new bulletin to inform health insurance companies that an individual that is injured during a community protest, demonstration, or gathering is not subject to any riot exclusion contained in their health coverage plan.
  • Kansas – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced that Christiane Swartz has been named the Interim Medicaid Director.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Insurance Administration is seeking public comments on the proposed rates for plan year 2021. For the individual market, the filed average annual rate change is a decrease of 4.8 percent and for the small group market, the filed average rate change is an increase of 5.3 percent.


The Medicaid Map May Shape Marketplace Entry

In a blog post, Kathy Hempstead, senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discusses the importance of continuity between Medicaid and state marketplaces to maximize access to coverage. Given the near certain migration of enrollees from the employer segment to the marketplace and Medicaid, it is likely that insurer interest in these segments will increase as well, and links to Medicaid may shape the pattern of future marketplace participation.


Electronic Consultations: A Triple Win for Patients, Clinicians, and Payers

Policymakers facing state budget cuts in the wake of the pandemic will soon be looking for ways to maximize limited resources. One option for lowering costs while improving access to specialty care may be electronic consultations, or “eConsults,” which connect clinicians over a secure electronic platform to share and discuss patient information. A new Milbank Memorial Fund report reviews the evidence on the effectiveness and safety of the use of eConsults by primary care clinicians and clinicians from multiple specialties and draws on interviews with leaders of six eConsult programs.


How to Address Child Poverty After the COVID-19 Crisis

Growing up in poverty has life-long consequences for a child’s physical and mental health and economic well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions for millions of children and families. But child poverty is not an intractable problem—there are policies that can address this tragic phenomenon. The Century Foundation is hosting a webinar that will feature leading national experts on Thursday, June 18, at 2:00 p.m. EST for an engaging dialogue about how to address this crisis and stubbornly high child poverty rates in the United States.