May 26 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • SHVS Webinar on Medicaid IT Investments
  • Other SHVS Publications on COVID-19
  • State Updates: AZ, MD, MI, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, RI, WA, WI & WV
  • A Cross-Sector Response to Health Disparities in COVID-19
  • Quick Takes for Medicaid Leaders Amid COVID-19
  • Principles for an Equitable State Response to COVID-19


SHVS Webinar on Medicaid IT Investments

Last week, State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) hosted a webinar that reviewed potential IT investments in responding to COVID-19 and strategies for states to secure federal funding to support these investments. During the webinar, panelists outlined strategies states can employ to secure current and potential IT investments that enable ongoing Medicaid program operations and advance health information exchanges. SHVS also published a companion issue brief authored by Manatt Health. If you missed the webinar, SHVS has posted the slides and a recording on its website.


Other SHVS Publications on COVID-19

SHVS is continuing to add new content to its COVID-19 resource page. Last week, SHVS posted two new expert perspectives. Authored by GMMB, Responding to COVID-19: State-Based Marketplaces Take Action highlights strategies that successfully drove enrollment in seven SBMs that established an SEP. Also, Erin Taylor from Bailit Health authored Impact of COVID-19 on Medicaid Managed Care Performance Incentives: Policy Options for States, which identifies actions federal and state policymakers have taken to address the impact of COVID-19 on their managed care performance incentive programs, as well as 2020 quality and total cost of care performance.

Also last week, Heather Howard and Sonia Pandit of SHVS wrote a Health Affairs blog post examining how states are leading in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and broader health innovations.


State Updates: AZ, MD, MI, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, RI, WA, WI & WV

COVID-19 State Updates

  • Addressing Social Risk Factors
    • Arizona – AHCCCS and the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family have made trauma-informed, evidence-based behavioral strategies available to families, educators, and communities in partnership with the PAXIS Institute. During the COVID-19 emergency, while parents are managing their children’s education at home, the PAX Tools Recipes are instructions for individual, evidence-based strategies that can support families through the pandemic and beyond. The strategies have been found to reduce instances of child maltreatment and even reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders and drug misuse.
    • New Jersey – New Jerseyans enrolled in the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be able to use their benefits to order groceries online starting this week. Online shopping will be available through Amazon and participating Walmarts, ShopRites, and The Fresh Grocers.
    • Ohio – The Ohio Department of Health announced that it is creating a new position dedicated to social determinants of health and opportunity. The individual in this role will build on several existing efforts to respond to health inequity by working directly with local communities on their specific long-term health needs and Ohio’s response to COVID-19. They will also be responsible for collecting data to inform best practices and for helping to ensure the implementation of the Minority Health Strike Force’s short-term and long-term recommendations. 
    • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expedite implementation of online purchasing for the state’s SNAP beneficiaries to support members in safely using their benefits during the pandemic. Households that receive FoodShare will be able to shop online at two grocery retailers.  
  • COVID-19 Testing
    • New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy, Walmart, and Quest Diagnostics announced that seven Walmart stores across New Jersey will open COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites beginning May 22. The testing sites will test adults who meet Centers for Disease Control and state and local criteria on who should be tested, including first responders, health care providers, and others with symptoms of COVID-19, and those in high-risk groups without symptoms. In addition, the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs announced an extension of pharmacists’ role in COVID-19 testing; under the order, pharmacists may administer tests for COVID-19 or its antibodies without a prescription.
    • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance issued a notice to insurers aimed at clarifying federal requirements detailed in the FFCRA and CARES acts. The notice states that testing for COVID-19 must be covered by private health insurance, including cost-sharing like copays for office, urgent care, and emergency department visits.
  • Promoting Health Insurance Coverage and Access
    • West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health is providing free vaccines to eligible children from birth through age 18 through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VFC program helps ensure West Virginia’s children will not miss vaccinations due to loss of insurance coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uninsured and other VFC-eligible children may receive free vaccines at more than 420 participating provider sites. 
  • Special Enrollment Periods
    • Maryland – The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, announced that as of May 15, nearly 31,000 residents across the state have taken advantage of the special enrollment period that began in March with Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement of a State of Emergency in Maryland. Uninsured Marylanders have until June 15 to enroll in coverage under the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period. 
  • Other
    • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced it has suspended premiums for Insure Oklahoma Individual Plan participants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Premiums will be suspended for at least April, May, and June 2020.
    • New York – The state submitted an emergency 1115 demonstration waiver application to CMS. To address the immediate needs made apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is requesting to make three initial investments in: emergency capacity assurance; rapid facility conversion; and regional coordination and workforce deployment.
    • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced it is distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) packs of needed supplies to all long-term care facilities in the state, and issuing a limited increased rate for some Medicaid services to support infection prevention and management in long-term care facilities.
    • Rhode Island – Governor Gina Raimondo announced the first version of CRUSH COVID RI, the state’s pandemic response mobile app. CRUSH COVID RI provides Rhode Islanders with easy access to all of the resources required during the public health crisis, including a location diary that helps users identify the people and places they are in contact with and a symptom checking survey.

Other State Updates

  • Michigan – The state submitted an application to CMS for a 10-year extension of its Flint Michigan Section 1115 demonstration which expands Medicaid coverage to all pregnant women and children up to age 21 with incomes up to 400 percent of FPL, who are currently served by the Flint water system or were served by the Flint water system beginning April 2014. All Flint Michigan demonstration beneficiaries receive full Medicaid state plan benefits, including, for children, Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefits. The federal comment period is open through June 17, 2020.
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will begin offering benefits through Medicaid Heritage Health Adult Expansion on October 1, 2020. The state will begin accepting applications on August 1, 2020, through or at the nearest DHHS office.
  • New Jersey – The Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services announced its intent to seek federal approval for a Medicaid State Plan Amendment to cover care management services for individuals with a primary substance use disorder with a cooccurring psychiatric severe mental illness or chronic condition.
  • Washington – Governor Jay Inslee reiterated his support for Cascade Care, the proposed public option, in a letter to Washington State Health Care Authority Director Sue Birch and Washington State Health Benefit Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan.


A Cross-Sector Response to Health Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, in partnership with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, is hosting a webinar that will share insights from the social services sector on how to work across sectors in crafting a response to the health disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar will feature experiences and insights from two community-based organizations that work within their communities to address health disparities and systemic inequities. Presenters from the Social Development Commission and Pillsbury United Communities will share actionable best practices for collaboration in this environment and reflect on opportunities for future structural change.


Medicaid Leadership Exchange: Quick Takes for Medicaid Leaders Amid COVID-19

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Health Care Strategies and the National Association of Medicaid Directors launched a new podcast series, Quick-Takes for Medicaid Leaders Amid COVID-19, to provide guidance to Medicaid leaders during the pandemic. This miniseries, part of the Medicaid Leadership Exchange podcast, includes short podcasts, companion videos and tip sheets. The series will touch on key topics during the COVID-19 crisis, including developing staff, building relationships, and more. The first episode in the series, Developing Others When No One is Around, features a conversation between Ed O’Neil, a leadership development expert, and Hilary Kennedy, program director for Medicaid leadership at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, about strategies Medicaid leaders can use to continue developing their staff at a distance.


Three Principles for an Equitable State Response to COVID-19 — and a Stronger Recovery

A new reportThree Principles for an Anti-Racist, Equitable State Response to COVID-19—and a Stronger Recovery, by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explores three principles state policymakers can consider to ensure an equitable recovery and state response. The effects of COVID-19 have underscored the ways in which the nation’s history of racism, bias, and discrimination are embedded in its health, social, and economic systems. The principles outlined in the report will help states direct COVID-19 relief spending where it is most needed, minimize cuts to critical services and public-sector jobs that are key to shared prosperity, target cuts to unproductive areas of spending, and make other policy improvements that can break down long-standing barriers to opportunity so that states are better positioned for equitable progress when the crisis ends.