June 22 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Resources on Health Equity
  • COVID-19 State Updates: GA, MD, OR, PA & WI
  • Other State Updates: CA, CO, KY, OR & WV
  • Targeted Testing to Advance Health Equity
  • SDOH Data-sharing and the Law
  • Facilitating Medicaid Enrollment During COVID-19


Resources on Health Equity

Last week, State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) posted updated resources highlighting state actions to advance health equity in response to, and recovery from, COVID-19. SHVS has updated the expert perspective Equitable Recovery Strategies to include recent efforts of states and cities working to center racial equity in their COVID-19 policies, including New Jersey’s efforts to integrate equity into their contact tracing program and the work of California and Chicago to promote an equitable and inclusive economic recovery. SHVS has also posted a new expert perspective, authored by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), that provides an update on states’ reporting of health equity data and a summary of CARES Act reporting requirements.


COVID-19 State Updates: GA, MD, OR, PA & WI

  • Georgia – Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that the Georgia Department of Community Health has reported that 100 percent of nursing home residents in facilities with 25 or more beds have now been tested for COVID-19. Across all long-term care facilities with 25 beds or more, 77 percent of residents and 57 percent of staff members have now been tested.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced that it has extended the deadline of its Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period so that uninsured residents will have until July 15 to enroll in health coverage through Maryland Health Connection, the state’s official health insurance marketplace.
  • Oregon – Governor Kate Brown announced the release of a new framework, developed by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, for state agencies to use to center equity and racial justice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The framework will also be used long-term to make equitable decisions about state resources going forward.
  • Pennsylvania
    • The Department of Human Services announced a request for applications for its new Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP). The RRHCP is designed to directly support COVID-19 readiness and response in long-term residential care facilities, improve infection prevention, and facilitate continuity of care and other services provided by long-term care facilities in a manner that mitigates risk of spread of COVID-19 to staff or residents.
    • Governor Tom Wolf announced that people with intellectual disabilities and autism and the providers of support services for these individuals will receive $260 million in CARES Act funding to help continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is partnering with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and other state agencies to conduct two population health studies that will examine the presence of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. These studies will provide researchers and public health experts with a better understanding of COVID-19 infections to date in the state and help identify communities that may be at risk for future outbreaks.


Other State Updates: CA, CO, KY, OR & WV

  • California – Members of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery issued an open letter calling out the insidious effects of structural racism across society, including the economy, and urging business and civic leaders to take a stand against injustice. In the letter, the Task Force urged business and civic leaders in California to commit to a series of actions.
  • Colorado – The state legislature passed a bill (SB20-215) that would establish a health insurance affordability fee assessed on certain health insurers and a special assessment on hospitals to fund measures to reduce consumer costs for individual health coverage plans.
  • Kentucky – Governor Andy Beshear announced his intention to move the commonwealth back to the Kynect state health care exchange and that he had submitted a declaration of intent letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to transition to a state-based exchange beginning January 1, 2022.
  • Oregon – Oregon submitted a new five-year 1115 demonstration request, Oregon Health Plan Substance Use Disorder (SUD) 1115 Demonstration, to transform its SUD delivery system through the use of evidence-based practices, tribal-based practices, and a focus on providing a comprehensive and full continuum of care. The federal comment period is open through July 18, 2020.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has provided funding to expand Quick Response Teams (QRTs) in four counties to reduce the number of fatal and nonfatal overdoses. QRTs assist individuals who have experienced an overdose with recovery support, social service referrals, and links to treatment options through multi-disciplinary teams. 


Targeted Coronavirus Testing Is Essential For Health Equity

A recent Health Affairs blog post describes the importance of targeting COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to key populations to maximize safety and advance health equity. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and worsened profound inequities in the U.S. health care and public health systems. This post examines how targeted testing and contact tracing represents a more ethical approach to lifting pandemic restrictions and opening up the economy given limited test supplies, and highlights the priority populations to target.


Data-sharing and the Law: Overcoming Health Care Sector Barriers to Sharing Data on Social Determinants

Meaningfully integrating social risk screening and social interventions into health care delivery programs requires overcoming new challenges, including barriers to establishing linkages between health care providers and community-based organizations (CBOs). Since health care organizations’ ability to engage with the social services, education, and criminal justice sectors often requires the exchange of detailed information—including information that may be subject to federal and/or state privacy laws—an important barrier to effective partnerships is the lack of an established framework that enables health care providers to disclose personal information with CBOs and other involved parties. On July 30, the Social Interventions Research & Evaluations Network (SIREN) is hosting a webinar where colleagues from Manatt Health will share findings from a report outlining circumstances in which health care organizations can exchange personal information outside the health care sector in compliance with federal and state law. The webinar will highlight four use cases that help to illustrate opportunities for the health care sector to share data with other organizations.


How Are States Facilitating Medicaid Enrollment During COVID-19?

The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) released a new research report outlining the 23 strategies that states are deploying to facilitate Medicaid enrollment during COVID-19. Key findings were also published in Health Affairs. The study provides an in-depth assessment of each state’s current enrollment strategies and actions taken to address COVID-19. The authors found variation in strategies between Medicaid expansion and nonexpansion states. IMI also identified additional strategies for states to consider implementing to enhance current efforts. These include increasing the number of presumptive eligibility entities, using the federally facilitated marketplace, and minimizing documentation requirements for eligibility.