March 9 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • States Respond to COVID-19
  • Texas ACA Court Case
  • State Updates: AZ, MD, MI, NM, OR & WA
  • Webinar: Medicaid and Maternal Mortality
  • New Learning Hub on Managed Care
  • Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Capped Funding Demonstrations
  • Discussing Racial Disparities


States Respond to COVID-19

In response to a growing number of cases of COVID-19 within the United States, Congress passed, and the President signed into law last week, an emergency funding package. The House Appropriations Committee published a summary of the package, which totals $8.3 billion. Also last week, several states took action to address the financial barriers that may deter people from seeking medical advice and treatment. California, Nevada, New York, Oregon, and Washington are all requiring private insurance companies regulated by the state to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms published a blog post on the actions states can take to address COVID-19 and ASTHO has a blog post on declaring a state of emergency related to the virus.


Texas ACA Court Case

Last week the Supreme Court announced that it will hear the suit brought by Texas challenging the ACA. In a Health Affairs blog post Katie Keith shares a summary of the status of the court case and when to expect a decision from the Supreme Court.


State Updates: AZ, MD, MI, NM, OR & WA

  • Arizona – The Arizona Medicaid program is gathering input from providers to assess their capacity to meet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) participation standards for the State Plan Amendment and Waiver options and inform their decisionmaking process regarding Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs). The state is encouraging IMD providers to complete a survey by today.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state-based exchange, announced data for the Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program. The program includes a question at the top of this year’s state tax forms and asks 2020 tax filers if they want to share information to determine their eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance. As of the beginning of March, more than 18,000 taxpayers have checked the box on their tax return to receive further information about enrolling in health insurance coverage.
  • Michigan – A federal judge issued a partial summary judgment blocking Michigan’s new Medicaid work requirements, based on a higher court’s decision on similar requirements in other states. The ruling means Michigan cannot enforce the work requirements, which went into effect January 1.
  • New Mexico – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed four health bills into law this week. The bills focused on reducing prescription drugs prices, developing more affordable health care insurance options (including the authority to transition to a full state-based marketplace), and raising the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.
  • Oregon and Washington – The NW Prescription Drug Consortium, which was created to allow Oregon and Washington state agencies, local governments, businesses, labor organizations, and uninsured consumers to pool their purchasing power to get better prices on prescription drugs, announced it is retaining Moda as its contracted program administrator and will begin using Navitus as its pharmacy benefit manager, effective January 1, 2022.


Medicaid’s Crucial Role in Combating the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Crisis

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST

The United States is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate has been steadily rising. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women in the United States are 3.3 and 2.5 times, respectively, more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than non-Hispanic white women. Medicaid has a crucial role to play in developing solutions: nearly half of all U.S. births are financed by Medicaid. On March 11, SHVS will host a webinar in which experts from Manatt Health will explore Medicaid strategies to improve maternal health outcomes and address disparities in five key domains: coverage, enrollment, benefits, models of care, and quality improvement.

Registration (required) at the following link:


New Managed Care Learning Hub

NORC at the University of Chicago has been awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish a Managed Care Organization (MCO) Learning Hub. Under the award, NORC and its partner organizations will identify, develop, and disseminate promising approaches and emerging opportunities for MCOs to improve the health of their members. The goal of the MCO Learning Hub is to serve as a repository of information, resources, and best practices to support MCOs in moving forward with system reform. Findings and recommendations will be disseminated on an ongoing basis across various channels that reach MCOs and other key stakeholders, including state Medicaid agencies and community-based organizations.


Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Capped Funding Demonstrations

The Commonwealth Fund published a report last week which finds that the Trump administration’s Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative would result in substantially less federal funding for state Medicaid programs as well as greater financial risks for states that elect to pursue the demonstration. Findings include that the median state would receive 10.5 percent less in Medicaid funding between 2021 and 2025 under the initiative. The estimates show even greater losses if costs or enrollment rise above current national projections. States opting to participate will likely have to make significant cuts in enrollees’ coverage, reduce benefits, impose higher cost sharing, and lower payment rates for providers who treat Medicaid patients. The demonstration’s “shared savings” feature, which allows states to divert some of the capped federal dollars into other state priorities, would also lead to additional Medicaid cuts.


Discussing Racial Disparities

The Urban Institute published a blog post on how to discuss the root causes of racial disparities. Racial disparities in the U.S. emerge from a long history of discriminatory policies, programs, and practices, as well as ongoing patterns of systemic racism. The blog post highlights how calling out these root causes of racial disparities is the first step toward remedy: naming the historical and contemporary policies and practices that create and maintain racial disparities challenges harmful stereotypes and narratives that shape the way people of color are perceived and treated. The blog post identifies concrete steps policymakers and others can take to engage in discussions of racial disparities that move towards addressing the root causes of inequity.