May 10 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • Federal SEP Enrollment
  • New State Health Insurance Resources
  • State Updates: CA, LA, MI, NC, NJ, NY, RI, UT, VA, WI, WV
  • Medicaid Strategy To Address Health-Related Social Needs
  • Case Study:  New Jersey’s Maternal Health Efforts


Federal SEP Enrollment

Last week, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that nearly 940,000 Americans have signed up for health insurance through due to the Biden administration’s special enrollment period for the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since implemented the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) expanded advance payments of premium tax credits amounts on April 1, nearly 2 million current enrollees have returned to the Marketplace and reduced their monthly premiums by over 40 percent on average after premium tax credits.


New State Health Insurance Resources 

State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) published two new resources. The first, Medicaid and CHIP Coverage of COVID-10 Vaccine and Treatment: A Roadmap for State Action During and After the Public Health Emergency, provides a roadmap for states to assess and, if necessary, amend their Medicaid and CHIP policies to ensure compliance with ARP’s requirements for covering COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. The second, Revisiting the Basic Health Program, is an issue brief that provides a refresher on the Basic Health Program structure as outlined in the ACA, lessons learned from the two states that have implemented the program to date, and considerations for further evolution of the program under legislative or executive action.


COVID-19 State Updates: LA, MI, NJ, NY, NC, UT, WV, WI

  • Louisiana – Governor John Bel Edwards announced the expansion of Louisiana’s U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program to include utility assistance. The program focuses on providing financial assistance to Louisiana renters and landlords experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the expansion, the state-administered program now helps past-due rent and utility fees dating back to April 2020, as well as future rent for eligible applicants.
  • Michigan – A statewide COVID-19 wastewater monitoring program piloted in 2020 resulted in all 20 participating sites detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater samples. The results hold promise for future efforts to detect and respond to outbreaks of the virus.
  • New Jersey – NJ TRANSIT kicked off a new public-private partnership to help New Jersey residents get vaccinated by offering complimentary rides to and from vaccination sites. The “VAXRIDE” program, funded by sponsors and led by Novartis, provides two free round trips for nearly 11,000 NJ residents to get vaccinated.
  • New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the New York State Department of Health will partner with the Yankees and the Mets to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at baseball games. New Yorkers who get vaccinated at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field will receive free ticket vouchers.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced more than 50 percent of adults 18 and older in the state has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. More than 43 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.
  • Utah – The Utah Department of Health notified the state legislature that all COVID-19 thresholds established in House Bill 294, Pandemic Emergency Power Amendments, have been met. The legislation, passed during the 2021 General Session, established criteria for eliminating COVID-19 public health orders based on case rates, ICU utilization, and prime doses of vaccine allocated to the state. While HB294 ends most public health orders, it specifically allows UDOH to continue public health orders that pertain to public health and safety measures in K-12 schools.
  • West Virginia – Governor Jim Justice announced that the state will set up vaccination sites at high-traffic locations. These include fairs, festivals, church parking lots, sporting events, public parks, bars, restaurants, shopping centers, community and civic groups, and business organizations such as Main Streat programs. Organizations like the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services, home health agencies, and related programs such as Meals on Wheels will also offer vaccines. 
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced it is helping employers and community-based organizations connect with vaccine providers to offer on-site vaccinations. The program is part of the statewide effort to promote vaccine equity by making COVID-19 vaccines more accessible for Wisconsinites.


Other State Updates: CA, MI, NC, RI, VA

  • California – Covered California launched a new television ad campaign to encourage Asian Americans to save with lower health insurance premiums provided by the American Rescue Plan. The ads, which are in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese, highlight how 400,000 Asian Americans can now get lower health insurance premiums starting June 1.
  • Michigan – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that in 2019, data shows that Michigan had both the lowest infant mortality rate in the state’s recorded history and a measurable decrease in the disparity of death occurrences between Black and white individuals.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the State Nutrition Action Coalition released a new NC Food and Nutrition Resource Programs quick reference guide, which provides a snapshot of 14 different U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service programs available in North Carolina, like the Summer Nutrition Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. These programs provide a vital source of support and aim to reduce food insecurity among under-resourced communities.
  • Rhode Island – The state’s Department of Health released a toolkit that details the four key components identified by the Department as essential for successful and sustainable implementation of its Health Equity Zone model. The Toolkit provides detailed, step-by-step instructions of for emulating RIDOH’s method for creating the HEZ initiative.
  • Virginia – Cover VA announced that starting April 1, Green Card holders with five years or more of residency in the U.S. do not need to show proof of work history to qualify for Virginia Medicaid. In the past, Green Card holders with five years or more of residency in the U.S. had to show proof of 40 quarters (10 years) of work history to qualify for health coverage from Virginia Medicaid.


Building a Medicaid Strategy to Address Health-Related Social Needs

State Medicaid agencies are increasingly pursuing opportunities to address health-related social needs (HRSN) to improve health outcomes, reduce health care spending, and advance health equity. A new tool, produced by the Center for Health Care Strategies with support from the Episcopal Health Foundation, can guide state Medicaid agencies in developing a cohesive strategy to address HRSN supported by Medicaid managed care and value-based payment initiatives. A robust HRSN strategy can help states achieve high-priority Medicaid goals and support broader state goals to improve community-level social determinants of health. A companion environmental scan highlights available evidence on specific approaches, tools, and resources for addressing HRSN.


Continuous Eligibility Keeps People Insured and Reduces Costs

The ACA created a continuum of coverage designed to provide health care access to people at different income levels through Medicaid and the health insurance marketplaces. However, administrative challenges when enrolling and renewing coverage, coupled with difficulties moving between Medicaid, marketplace, and employer coverage, continue to cause gaps in coverage, uninsurance, and burdens on individuals and state Medicaid agencies. A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities lays out these administrative challenges and explains how continuous eligibility policies can help address uninsurance. The continuous eligibility offered by Medicaid and available for adults in Montana and New York through a Medicaid demonstration overcomes many of these administrative challenges.


Promising Practices to Reduce Maternal Mortality in New Jersey

The National Governors Association released a case study highlighting Nurture NJ, an initiative of First Lady Tammy Murphy to address significant disparities and curb the rate of preventable maternal deaths in the state. Nurture NJ is an umbrella that breaks down silos between stakeholders, bringing them together to tackle issues affecting maternal and child health (MCH). Seated in the First Lady’s office, the program facilitates collaborative partnerships with the Governor’s office, 18 state agencies, and national MCH organizations. The initiative has also partnered with state legislative caucuses to brief lawmakers on issues affecting the MCH population. Direct funding is earmarked for the Nurture NJ campaign, including much of their community outreach work. However, the initiative also works with partners to obtain support for various programs under the larger umbrella. For example, state budget dollars in 2020 were allocated to increase Medicaid reimbursement for midwives and fund implicit bias training at labor and delivery hospitals, as well as Federally Qualified Health Centers. Overall, the initiative has assisted in procuring around $19 million for various MCH-related programs in the state thus far.