March 13 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Princeton Pulse Podcast
  • Maintaining Access to Services After Transitioning from Medicaid
  • What the Growing Medicaid Undercount Means for Data Users and Policymakers
  • Accelerating Progress Toward Healthcare Equity
  • Accelerating Progress Toward Healthcare Equity
  • State updates: CA, CO, DE, IL, KS, MA, NC, NE, NY, OH, WI, WV & WY 


Princeton Pulse Podcast

Last week, State Health and Value Strategies released the latest episode of The Princeton Pulse Podcast: “Can We Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy and Climate Change With a Similar Playbook? Researchers Think So.” Although vaccine hesitancy and climate change are distinct challenges, both are perpetuated by social behaviors, and, according to a recent study, could be solved with a similar playbook. 


Maintaining Access to Services After Transitioning from Medicaid

A blog post from The Commonwealth Fund describes how as states prepare to resume Medicaid eligibility redeterminations, government officials are focused on strategies to promote continuity of coverage to minimize the number of people who become uninsured or face gaps in coverage. CMS has provided states with guidance on when and how to conduct redeterminations, and the federal health insurance Marketplace has dramatically increased funding for consumer outreach and assistance. State-Based Marketplaces also are preparing innovative programs, such as auto-enrolling people into health plans and premium assistance, to ease coverage transitions. But as the authors describe, continuity of coverage is only one piece of the puzzle—even those who successfully shift to another coverage option face the risk of disrupted care and loss of access to providers they were seeing under their Medicaid plans. It is, therefore, critically important for states to develop strategies to promote continuity of care. As a reminder, SHVS has created a one-stop resource page to support states as they plan for the unwinding of the continuous coverage requirement.


What the Growing Medicaid Undercount Means for Data Users and Policymakers

State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, April 5 at 12 p.m. CST/1 p.m. ET to discuss the rising Medicaid undercount. With many states and stakeholders eager to understand the topic further, this webinar will provide an overview of issues related to the Medicaid undercount along with relevant policy implications. SHADAC researchers will be joined by a panel of experts including: Joan Alker (Georgetown University Center for Children & Families), Genevieve Kenney (Urban Institute), and Benjamin Sommers (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation). Attendees can expect to learn: the extent to which, how, and why 2021 coverage data underestimated Medicaid coverage and/or overestimated uninsurance; the data and methodology used to calculate the undercount; and how policy and advocacy may be impacted by the growing Medicaid undercount. The panel will also answer questions from attendees following the presentation.


Accelerating Progress Toward Healthcare Equity

The Urban Institute is launching a new program of action to elevate healthcare inequities as a national priority and build momentum for key remedies and structural reforms. In 2003, the National Academies Press published a landmark report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, that shocked many policymakers and the medical establishment with its finding that racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of care are “remarkably consistent,” even after controlling for access-related factors, such as income and insurance status. Despite the national attention this report received, the nation has made little progress toward eliminating healthcare inequities in the 20 years since the report was published. As the 20th anniversary of Unequal Treatment approaches, the Urban Institute will host a full-day symposium which will present evidence of the causes and consequences of healthcare inequities; identify the most promising research and policy strategies that have emerged; allow interested parties to collaborate to develop tools and mechanisms to hold practitioners and policymakers accountable; and elevate the voices of patients from under-resourced communities and a new generation of scholars of color whose perspectives must be centered in identifying research questions and solutions.


State updates: CA, CO, DE, IL, KS, MA, NC, NE, NY, OH, WI, WV & WY 

  • California – Covered California, the state’s official health insurance Marketplace, announced that 263,320 people newly selected a health plan for 2023, continuing a trend of steady growth in recent years. The total is more than 14,000 higher than 2021’s total, and 8,000 higher than last year’s figure. In addition, more than 1.4 million Californians renewed their health insurance for 2023, bringing Covered California’s overall enrollment to 1.74 million.
  • Colorado – The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing announced a virtual event on healthcare affordability designed for policymakers, advocates, payers, care providers, healthcare leaders and other industry stakeholders. The agenda will cover hospital and prescription drug affordability, rural hospital opportunities, value based payments and partnering to keep Coloradans covered during the unwinding of the continuous coverage requirement.
  • Delaware – The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services announced estimates that once annual Medicaid renewals begin, 40,000 to 50,000 Delaware residents may no longer qualify for Medicaid or CHIP and may be disenrolled.
  • Illinois – Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services announced a critical transformation initiative that will reshape the way the state approaches care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This initiative will standardize and improve conditions across the system and prioritize community-based solutions to ensure Illinoisans experiencing disproportionate impact receive care in the best possible setting.
  • Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly announced that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, through its Kansas Community Suicide Prevention Grant program, has awarded $525,000 to address the ongoing crisis of suicide in Kansas. Fifteen community organizations have received $35,000 each to develop community-specific strategies to prevent suicide among at-risk Kansans.
  • Massachusetts – Audrey Morse Gasteier, who has served as a policy leader at the Massachusetts Health Connector for more than a decade, was named executive director of the State-Based Marketplace by Secretary of Health and Human Services and Health Connector Board Chair Kate Walsh. Congratulations Audrey!
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that 40,000 to 80,000 Medicaid enrollees could lose coverage following Medicaid eligibility redeterminations. The state has sent notice of renewal to 390,000 enrollees, and those deemed ineligible will be directed to the federal Marketplace.
  • New York – Governor Kathy Hochul announced that up to $3.75 million is available to expand outreach and engagement services designed to connect disproportionately affected populations with substance use supports and other health services. Administered by the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the initiative is the latest to tap New York state’s Opioid Settlement Fund and specifically designed to reach individuals in under-resourced communities that may not have access to care otherwise.
  • North Carolina
    • The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that up to 300,000 North Carolinians may lose full healthcare coverage or see a reduction in benefits as the Medicaid recertification process begins. NCDHHS anticipates most Medicaid terminations or reductions could begin as early as July 1, 2023, although some could lose coverage as early as May 1, 2023.
    • Governor Roy Cooper released a comprehensive plan to invest $1 billion in addressing North Carolina’s mental health and substance use crisis. The plan outlines three areas for investment in the continuum of behavioral healthcare: making health services more available when and where people need them; building strong systems to support people in crisis and people with complex behavioral health needs; and enabling better health access and outcomes with data and technology.
  • Ohio – The Ohio Department of Medicaid posted its unwinding baseline data report (under the section titled “Additional resources and information”).
  • West Virginia  
    • The West Virginia Bureau for Medical Services created a webpage where it will post documents the state is required to submit to CMS, including the baseline and monthly unwinding data reports.
    • Governor Jim Justice signed a bill splitting the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) into three. The legislation splits DHHR into three separate departments of Health, Human Services and Health Facilities, effective January 1, 2024.
  • Wisconsin – Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services awarded $1 million in grants to increase access to mental health and substance use care for under-resourced communities. Ten organizations will each receive $100,000 to develop projects that build on the ability of behavioral health professionals to support people with diverse values and beliefs.
  • Wyoming – Governor Gordon signed a bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 90 days to 12 months.