March 21 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • CMS maternal health learning collaborative 
  • How states are preparing for end of PHE
  • No Surprises Act Enforcement
  • DCHBX’s efforts to address systemic racism 
  • State updates: AZ, AR, CO, DE, MN, MT, NE, NY, OR, PA & WA

CMS Learning Collaborative: Improving Maternal Health by Reducing Low-Risk Cesarean Delivery

CMS is launching a learning collaborative on improving maternal health by reducing Low-Risk Cesarean Delivery (LRCD)  which will begin with a webinar series that demonstrates the role of LRCD in maternal and infant health and presents strategies that state Medicaid and CHIP agencies can use to reduce LRCD births. Following the webinar series, an action-oriented affinity group will provide technical assistance to support state Medicaid and CHIP agencies in their efforts to convene stakeholders and improve maternal and infant health by reducing LRCD. Staff from state Medicaid and CHIP agencies, along with their hospital and obstetrical providers, Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans, public health agencies, and other quality improvement partners, are invited to take part in the webinar series beginning in March 2022. To register for one or more of the webinars, click here. As a reminder, SHVS published an issue brief Promising Approaches to Reducing Disparities in Birth-Related Health Outcomes in Medicaid.

Washington, D.C.’s State-Based Marketplace Is Addressing Health Disparities and Systemic Racism in Healthcare

A new blog post authored by Diane C. Lewis, the chair of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) executive board profiles the work DCHBX is engaged in to address health inequities and systemic racism. In the fall of 2020, the DCHBX executive board established the Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group. The working group was composed of diverse stakeholders committed to social justice and health equity, including all health insurance companies offering coverage on DC Health Link, patient advocates, health equity experts, members from the broker community, and providers, including doctors and hospitals. They were charged with issuing recommendations in three focus areas under DCHBX control or influence, mindful to focus on work that would supplement and not supplant other equity efforts already underway in the District. The blog post highlights the efforts underway by DCHBX to implement the recommendations. 

Map: No Surprises Act Enforcement

A new, interactive map published by the Commonwealth Fund provides an overview of state strategies for enforcing the No Surprises Act. The Act, which went into effect for most consumers enrolled in individual and group health insurance plans on January 1, 2022, addresses surprise bills for medical care in certain circumstances. The map summarizes the roles of the federal and state governments on various aspects of the No Surprises Act, including enforcement, specified state laws for payment determination, the use of external review for surprise-billing cases, and the patient-provider dispute resolution process. For more information on the No Surprises Act and its implications for states, including a toolkit on communicating with consumers about the Act, see our resource page.   

 How States Are Preparing for The End of The Medicaid Continuous Coverage Requirement

Two publications released this week examine how states are preparing for the end of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement. A new Urban Institute issue brief, co-authored by researchers from Georgetown University, examines preparations for the end of the PHE in 11 states with SBMs. The brief identifies major challenges state officials are facing and best practices for keeping people in coverage that could be adopted by the federally facilitated Marketplace and SBMs. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families presents a snapshot of actions states are taking to prepare for the lifting of the continuous enrollment requirement, as well as key state Medicaid enrollment and renewal procedures in place during the PHE. For more information on state strategies to support Medicaid/CHIP coverage retention and plan for the end of the continuous coverage requirement, see our resource page.

In case you missed it: President Biden announced Dr. Ashish Jha as the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, following the departure of Jeff Zients. Dr. Jha, the Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, is a well-known figure in the health policy research field. 

State Updates

  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) put out a press release highlighting that Medicaid and KidsCare disenrollments will begin again, following the end of the continuous coverage requirement. AHCCCS estimates that approximately 500,000 currently enrolled adults and children will need to complete a renewal to determine continued eligibility and is encouraging AHCCCS members to prepare for eligibility renewal. 
  • Arkansas – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that Medicaid clients across the state can expect a phone call from DHS regarding updating their contact information to ensure they receive renewal letters in the coming months. DHS has set up a new call center that will reach out to clients to help them quickly and easily update their mailing address, phone number, and email address on file. 
  • Colorado – Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, issued a request for applications from new and returning organizations, as well as licensed brokers, to operate assistance sites and enrollment centers across the state. Applications are due by April 25.  
  • Delaware – The Division of Public Health’s Office of Health Crisis Response has initiated a Restaurant Accolade Program to train and educate restaurant industry staff on how to reverse an opioid overdose and support coworkers with substance use disorder. The creation of the program was informed by the results of Delaware’s first Drug Overdose Mortality Surveillance Report published in August 2019, which found that 10 percent of Delawareans who died of a drug overdose in 2017 were employed in the food services industry.
  • Minnesota – The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced the launch of a newly developed service, the Children’s Mental Health Residential Services Plan. The new service was designed to assist youth with a severe emotional disturbance and their families in gaining access to a residential treatment center.
  • Montana – Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier announced the establishment of a new office to strengthen partnerships with faith and community organizations. The office will serve as a conduit between DPHHS and faith and community organizations across the state, creating a two-way flow of information, resources and programs to serve the identified health and wellness needs in each community. 
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health announced a collaboration with three local education agencies to improve school-based mental health services. Through the implementation of evidence-based, trauma-informed practices in mental health screening, assessment, interventions, and treatment, up to 5,227 students will be served through the project each year.
  • New York – Governor Kathy Hochul announced the availability of up to $1 million in funding for Opioid Treatment Program providers to establish additional locations outside of their current facilities. This initiative is designed to help bring these services to currently underserved locations, and to address the growing need for treatment services across New York. 
  • Oregon
    • Governor Kate Brown signed HB 4035 which directs resources towards creating an orderly transition for the estimated 300,000 Oregonians who may no longer qualify for Medicaid following the end of the continuous coverage requirement. HB 4035 sets up a process for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to potentially create a ‘bridge health plan’ which could be offered to low-income Oregonians who do not qualify for Medicaid because they earn slightly too much.
    • OHA launched a pandemic recovery plan known as RISE: Resilience in Support of Equity. The plan outlines near-term priorities Oregon will pursue to monitor COVID-19 and shield people at highest risk. The strategy aims to ensure equity at the heart of the state’s response, including collaborating with communities to apply an equity framework to policy and operational decisions.
  • Pennsylvania – Pennie, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, announced a new program created this tax season to connect uninsured Pennsylvanians with health coverage. Uninsured Pennsylvanians will be able to indicate they are without health insurance through a new optional tax form called, REV-1882 ‘Health Insurance Coverage Information Request.’ Those who fill out form REV-1882 will receive an official postal notice from Pennie with instructions on how to enroll in coverage beginning in April 2022.   
  • Washington – The Health Care Authority (HCA) announced plans to submit a renewal for Washington State’s Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver, the Medicaid Transformation Project (MTP). HCA will submit the MTP renewal package to CMS on July 15, 2022. There will be several new strategies in the renewal that contribute to ensuring whole-person care: continuous Medicaid enrollment for children; extending coverage for postpartum services; re-entry services for individuals who are exiting jail, prison, or other correctional facilities; and enhancements to long-term services and supports.