June 7 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • “Month of Action” to vaccinate 70% of Americans 
  • New resources on COVID-19 vaccine distribution
  • State updates: AZ, CO, GA, LA, MN, NE, NJ, NM, NY, PA, TX, & WA
  • Event: New State Option for Community-Based Mobile Crisis Interventions 
  • Apply for Medicaid Leadership Institute
  • Telehealth and equity


“Month of Action” to vaccinate 70% of Americans 

President Biden announced a “month of action” last week in an effort to administer at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 70 percent of Americans by July 4. Vaccination sites will offer extended hours, with some pharmacies open 24 hours on Fridays. Additionally, free drop-in child care will be available for parents to get their vaccines, and Uber and Lyft will offer free rides to and from vaccination sites. In addition, Vice President Harris is launching a national vaccination tour across the southern and midwestern states to encourage people to get vaccinated.


New resources on COVID-19 vaccine distribution 

State Health and Value published two new resources supporting state efforts to reach unvaccinated residents. Strategies for States to Leverage Local Partnerships for Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccinations details how state leaders can use administrative, policy, and funding levers to support community partners in improving access points, addressing structural barriers to vaccination, and establishing rapid data collection and evaluation efforts for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution solutions. Also, the new expert perspective,  Aligning Vaccine and Enrollment Efforts to Maximize Reach, describes how Marketplaces are promoting enrollment and new American Rescue Plan Act subsidies through vaccine distribution to reach eligible consumers. 


COVID-19 Updates

  • Minnesota – Governor Tim Walz announced the rewards request form for the ‘Your Shot to Summer’ vaccine incentive campaign is now open for submissions at www.mn.gov/covid19/summer. Minnesotans 12 and older who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose since May 27 are eligible to fill out the request form and choose their preferred vaccine reward.
  • New York – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the first-round winners of the ‘Get A Shot to Make Your Future’ incentive for a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY school. Winners receive a full scholarship to any New York public college or university, including tuition and room and board. New York State will administer the random drawing and select ten winners each week for five weeks. 
  • Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Latino Affairs Commission hosted a discussion about the importance of ensuring Latino/a communities in Pennsylvania receive reliable and trustworthy information about COVID-19 vaccines. The panel discussion, led by Second Lady Gisele Fetterman and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, took place during a Facebook Live event entitled Vax Facts: Privacy and Safety for the Latino/a Communities. 
  • Washington – Governor Jay Inslee announced a suite of new incentives to help encourage unvaccinated Washingtonians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington State Lottery will be conducting a “Shot of a Lifetime” giveaway series throughout June, working with state agencies, technology companies, sports teams and higher education institutions across the state to offer a myriad of prizes to vaccinated individuals. Prizes include lottery cash drawings, higher education tuition and expense assistance, sports tickets and gear, and airline tickets.


Other State Updates

  • Arizona – Arizona announced that effective October 1, 2021, the Medicaid School Based Claiming program will cover all Medicaid-enrolled children in participating Local Education Agencies (school districts). With this change, Local Education Agencies will have more flexibility in their school-based Medicaid programs by allowing school districts to bill Medicaid for medical or behavioral health services delivered to all Medicaid-enrolled children, not just those with a special education plan documented by an Individualized Education Plan.
  • California – The California Health and Human Services Agency released their spending plan for the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage available for Home-and Community-Based Services through the American Rescue Plan Act. The new initiative builds off of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released California Comeback Plan.
  • Colorado – Governor Polis signed into law legislation aimed to improve how Colorado administers and delivers long-term care services and supports to Colorado Medicaid beneficiaries. HB21-1227 authorizes the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) to develop clear and predetermined criteria to analyze and enforce a “demonstration of need” as part of the process to determine where and when a new Colorado Medicaid nursing facility can open when applying for Colorado Medicaid certification. Additionally, the bill allows the HCPF to exempt nursing facilities with five or fewer Medicaid beds from the current reimbursement methodology and instead require the facilities to be reimbursed at the statewide average rate. 
  • Georgia – The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury are requesting that Georgia submit an updated actuarial and economic analyses for Part II of their Section 1332 waiver, the Georgia Access Model, by July 3. The updated baseline projections are necessary for the Departments to evaluate whether the Georgia Access Model will satisfy the statutory guardrails when the baseline projections are adjusted to include more affordable coverage and higher enrollment (both subsidized and unsubsidized) resulting from the recent changes in federal law and policy. 
  • Louisiana – The Louisiana Department of Health is seeking feedback on transportation and pharmacy benefits provided to Medicaid members through Healthy Louisiana health plans.  
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that all Nebraskans eligible for Medicaid expansion will receive equal benefits coverage, including dental services, vision services, and over-the-counter medications, starting October 1, 2021. To initiate this change, DHHS will notify CMS of its intent to withdraw its application for Section 1115 Heritage Health Adult demonstration program, which would have allowed Nebraskans who have Basic benefits coverage through Medicaid expansion to qualify for Prime benefits by participating in wellness, personal responsibility, and community engagement activities.
  • New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy released a report on New Jersey’s response to the opioid overdose epidemic during the COVID-19 public health emergency in 2020. Governor Murphy also announced a new public data dashboard from the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner that will provide public health partners and law enforcement agencies near real-time data regarding suspected drug-related deaths. The dashboard will enhance their ability to rapidly address potential threats to their communities. 
  • New York – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a record-breaking 6 million New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance through New York State of Health, the state-based marketplace, across Medicaid, Essential Plan, Child Health Plus, and Qualified Health Plans.
  • New Mexico — The New Mexico Human Services Department announced improved access to opioid addiction treatment providers using a one-stop search map and the increased availability of video and phone provider treatment services through the Dose of Reality Treatment Works campaign. The campaign includes an easy interactive treatment locator map, a resource guide,  and a video to address stigma associated with opioid addiction.
  • Texas – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission contracted with UT Health Science Center at San Antonio to launch a new, free behavioral health awareness eLearning series to empower families with more knowledge and understanding of behavioral health conditions.
  • Washington – The Office of Insurance Commissioner announced that 15 health insurers filed an average proposed rate increase of 5.47 percent for Washington’s individual health insurance market. The plans and proposed rates are currently under review and final decisions will come this fall.


Upcoming Webinar –

American Rescue Plan’s New State Option for Community-Based Mobile Crisis Interventions

Monday, June 14, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. ET

State Health and Value Strategies is hosting a webinar on the funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for states and localities to invest in a more equitable, comprehensive, and integrated crisis system that connects individuals in behavioral health crises with specialized and appropriate behavioral health treatment. During the webinar, experts from Manatt Health will provide an overview and considerations on the state option to provide community mobile crisis interventions services included in ARPA. Presenters will walk through key questions on the new option, review promising models for crisis mobile intervention services, and share strategies for equitable design and implementation. Registration (required) at the following link: https://rwjfevents.webex.com/rwjfevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=ef05349f4b74281b270217f888011f2d3 


Related resource: American Rescue Plan Provides a New Opportunity for States to Invest in Equitable, Comprehensive and Integrated Crisis Services



Applications Open for Medicaid Leadership Institute

The Medicaid Leadership Institute, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies, announced it is accepting applications for the 2022 class of Medicaid directors. The Medicaid Leadership Institute supports Medicaid directors in cultivating the necessary skills to successfully lead their Medicaid programs, improve key health outcomes, and advance health equity. The Institute offers an intensive 10-month leadership development program for up to six competitively selected Medicaid directors. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 59 state Medicaid directors and their senior leadership teams from states across the political spectrum have participated in the program since 2009. Medicaid directors in all states, commonwealths, and territories are eligible to apply. Applications are due July 8, at 5:00 p.m. ET.


Implications of the Rapid Transition to Telehealth for Primary Care Access and Equity Post-COVID

A new open-access Milbank Quarterly article finds that without proactive efforts to address digital barriers associated with socioeconomic status, the implementation of telehealth may reinforce disparities in health access among marginalized and underserved communities. Researcher Ji E. Chang of the New York University School of Global Public Health and colleagues analyzed data on small primary care practices’ use of telehealth and barriers to telehealth use in New York City following New York State’s pandemic stay-at-home order. They found, for example, that providers in more socially vulnerable communities were more likely to use their phone as their primary telehealth method and less likely to use video than those in less socially vulnerable communities. The authors offer recommendations for state Medicaid programs, insurers, and policymakers to promote telehealth access and equity.