May 4 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • SHVS COVID-19 Webinars
  • Additional SHVS Resources
  • State Updates: AZ, CA, CO, MA, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VA, & WA
  • New SHVS Webinar: Health Equity & COVID-19
  • Webinar: Preparing for the Post-COVID-19 World
  • Surprise Billing and COVID-19 Treatment


SHVS COVID-19 Webinars

As states face an increase in the volume of Medicaid applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, State Health and Value Strategies hosted a webinar, State Strategies to Support Medicaid/CHIP Eligibility & Enrollment in Response to COVID-19. If you missed the webinar, SHVS posted the slides and a recording on its website. As a companion to the webinar, SHVS also published a Medicaid COVID-19 Messaging toolkit that provides sample messages for new consumers as well as current enrollees.

SHVS also hosted a webinar on recent federal legislation related to COVID-19 that distilled key takeaways from recent federal guidance. The slide deck from the webinar, Recent COVID-19 Stimulus Legislation and Guidance: Opportunities and Considerations for Stateshas been posted on the SHVS website.


Additional SHVS Resources

Last week SHVS published a toolkit for states, Pathways to Coverage for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment for Adults in Medicaid Expansion and Non- Expansion States, which provides an overview for states of various coverage pathways for individuals, including those who are uninsured and in need of COVID-19 testing and treatment. SHVS also published a revised version of the expert perspective States’ Reporting of COVID-19 Health Equity Data to account for the latest updates in states’ dashboards and reporting. SHVS will continue to track state reporting and will be updating this expert perspective on a weekly basis.


State Updates: AZ, CA, CO, MA, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VA & WA

  • Addressing Social Risk Factors
    • California – Governor Gavin Newsom announced $3.64 million in new funding to expand the state’s Farm to Family program, including $2.86 million from the USDA and $775,000 committed by philanthropy to jumpstart a $15 million campaign to further support the program and California’s food banks through the end of the year. The Governor also highlighted critical expansions of CalFresh and EBT programs to combat food insecurity for low-income Californians, including a new Pandemic-EBT program for children who receive free or reduced lunch and EBT for online purchasing.
    • Pennsylvania – The Wolf Administration highlighted its efforts to address food insecurity in the commonwealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts include protecting the local supply chain, advocating for necessary waivers and resources, and ensuring equal access to healthy food for all.
  • Bulletins and Notices to Providers
    • New Jersey – The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services disseminated guidelines to behavioral health provider agencies to encourage the adoption of telemedicine/telehealth where practicable and appropriate.
  • Communications
    • Rhode Island – HealthSourceRI, the state-based marketplace, created a new fact sheet (available in English and Spanish) to give consumers insight into how they’ve responded to COVID-19 and information on how to enroll in coverage.
  • Special Enrollment Periods
    • California – Covered California announced that more than 84,000 people had enrolled in health care coverage since the exchange announced a SEP in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the exchange is sending more than 11 million emails to consumers to help them understand their health care coverage options during this unprecedented time.
    • Colorado – Connect for Health Colorado announced more than 10,000 Coloradans have signed up for a health insurance plan through the state’s emergency SEP, which ended yesterday.
    • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Health Connector announced that over 45,000 people have enrolled in a new coverage or updated their coverage since the start of March. The SEP ends May 25.
    • Washington – The Washington Health Benefit Exchange announced that over 16,000 customers have selected a plan for coverage since the Exchange announced a special enrollment period in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those that have enrolled, over 6,000 were previously uninsured. The Exchange is also reminding residents to sign up for coverage before May 8, when the SEP ends.
  • State Recovery Plans and Equity
    • New Jersey – In his vision to restart the state economy, Governor Murphy outlined six key principles and benchmarks to guide the process for restoring New Jersey’s economic health by ensuring public health. The benchmarks includes creating the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission to advise on the process and recommend responsible and equitable decisions.
    • Washington – Governor Jay Inslee announced a new COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard to aid the state in gauging when and how to best lift restrictions around “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” in Washington. The dashboard features five “dials” measuring different data points in the state, including risk to vulnerable populations measured by demographic and equity data.
  • Support for Providers
    • Arizona – AHCCCS, the state Medicaid program, is advancing $41 million to more than 106 provider organizations, including hospitals, primary care providers, behavioral health outpatient providers, and justice clinic providers who participate in the agency’s Targeted Investments program to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Colorado – Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order directing the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to provide additional funds to nursing homes and other congregate care facilities in response to COVID-19.
  • Other
    • California
      • Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new portal to help parents, including essential workers and vulnerable families, find safe, reliable, and accessible child care options. The new portal is available at and enables parents to enter their location and the type of care they need and instantly receiving a list of local center-based and family child care programs.
      • Covered California for Small Business announced a new program aimed at helping small businesses continue to provide insurance to their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will allow employers, who provide coverage to their employees and were unable to pay their premiums for the month of April, an extra 30 days to make their payments for the months of April and May and a way to spread the costs of those premiums over the balance of the year.

Other State Updates

  • New Hampshire – The state officially submitted its Section 1332 waiver application for a state reinsurance program to CMS. SHVS has updated its map to reflect this latest development.
  • Virginia – CoverVA announced that 400,000 Virginians have enrolled in health coverage through Medicaid expansion.  


Webinar: Health Equity and COVID-19: Tracking and Taking Action to Address Disparities

Thursday, May 7, 2020, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST

As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, it has become increasingly clear that vulnerable populations are disproportionately impacted. Unsurprisingly, these disparately affected groups are the same ones that have long experienced stark health disparities, such as communities of color, low-income populations, and those that reside in congregate living facilities (nursing homes, jails, shelters, etc.). State Health and Value Strategies, in partnership with technical experts from Health Equity Solutions and SHADAC, is hosting a webinar that will report on how states are tracking the disproportionate impact of the disease on vulnerable populations and will provide a framework for states to examine their COVID-19 response efforts to yield better outcomes for such populations.

Registration (required) at the following link:


Preparing for the Post-COVID-19 World

Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub, which is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is hosting a webinar on Friday, May 8 that will examine how past disasters have shaped policy and consider how to prepare for the post COVID-19 world. COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis that has redirected the attention of policymakers and health care to unanticipated activities, while also engaging the public. The crisis has resulted in a questioning of policy priorities and of the nation’s preparedness. During the webinar, a wide ranging set of experts will step through the issues of emergency preparedness and disparate effects on vulnerable populations; discuss the new appreciation for coverage and the role of cost-sharing; and generally seek to ensure that our new policy openness has a lasting, positive impact on Americans. Register here for the webinar.


How States Can Prevent Surprise Billing for COVID-19 Related Treatment

Researchers from Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms authored a post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To The Point blog on steps states can take to prevent surprise bills for patients seeking care for COVID-19. Consumers’ fear of incurring medical bills could lead some to avoid testing or treatment. While new federal laws require insurers to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and the associated medical visit, that protection does not extend to treatment. Nor does it prevent balance billing if a patient is treated by an out-of-network provider or facility. Protection, however, may come with the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. Providers accepting these funds must agree not to send balance bills to any patient for COVID-related treatment. The effectiveness of this protection will depend on its implementation. More than half of states had some form of surprise billing protection in place or pending and six states have used emergency powers to add or strengthen consumer protections. The blog post includes a table that details balance billing protections by state.