In This Week’s Update:
- New SHVS Resources: PHE Unwinding
- State Updates: CO, CT, NC, NJ, NV & WV
- Enforcement of the No Surprises Act
- Perceptions of Healthcare Affordability
- Improving Race and Ethnicity Data
Public Health Emergency Unwinding
State Health and Value Strategies released two new publications for states related to unwinding from the Public Health Emergency: an expert perspective, State Policy and IT System Strategies to Prepare for PHE Unwinding: Updating Medicaid Enrollee Address Information and Responding to Returned Mail and companion issue brief, The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Data and IT “Table Stakes” for Retaining Coverage Gains that examine the IT system, policy, and operational strategies states can consider to ensure that eligible enrollees are able to keep or transition to new affordable health coverage when the PHE continuous coverage requirements end. SHVS is also hosting a webinar on Wednesday, November 10 that will highlight specific strategies to update and obtain key enrollee contact information described in these new publications. See below for the link to register.
- The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health and partners launched the I Matter program that provides up to three free counseling sessions for Coloradans ages 18 and younger or 21 and younger for those receiving special education services. Youth and their parents can visit the I Matter platform to take a confidential online survey about their mental health and schedule sessions with a licensed behavioral health clinician, primarily via telehealth.
- The Office of Saving People Money on Health Care announced the release of a new report highlighting the need for a holistic focus on health care affordability. The report illustrates the importance of addressing out-of-pocket expenses for consumers, which can cause significant financial and emotional distress especially for those living with chronic diseases.
- Connecticut – Access Health CT (AHCT) hosted its annual Community Summit, preparing community partners, insurance carriers, brokers and certified application counselors for the upcoming annual open enrollment period starting November 1. As part of the annual event, AHCT recognizes a local community leader that demonstrates shared values, including resilience, determination and passion for delivering vital information and services to Connecticut communities. This year’s award was presented to Jason Jakubowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Connecticut Foodshare.
- New Jersey
- First Lady Tammy Murphy and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that CMS will expand Medicaid coverage for 365 days postpartum to improve maternal and infant health and decrease the racial disparity in birth outcomes in New Jersey. By extending this critical coverage, approximately 8,700 postpartum New Jerseyans annually will receive comprehensive access to healthcare for a full year through Medicaid. This approval makes New Jersey the second state in the nation and first state in the region to provide this Medicaid expansion with the goal of preventing postpartum related illness and death. As a reminder, SHVS has an issue brief and companion webinar that highlights state strategies to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in Medicaid, which includes extending postpartum coverage to a full year.
- Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced that applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund (ENJF) cash assistance program are now open to eligible individuals who want to apply for the financial benefit. The $40 million ENJF program will provide a one-time, direct cash benefit to eligible households that suffered an economic hardship due to COVID-19 and were excluded from federal stimulus checks and COVID-19 related unemployment assistance. This includes undocumented individuals, residents returning from the justice system, and any other individuals otherwise excluded from pandemic-related financial help.
- Nevada – Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine launched a grant program aimed at helping children with disabilities and their families as part of the state’s economic recovery. The Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students (TOTS) Grant Program is utilizing $5 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide grants to children with disabilities through ABLE accounts.
- North Carolina
- The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services joined 40 cross-sector health care organizations committing to using and sharing high-level data about race, ethnicity, language and gender to inform best practices to promote health equity. Recognizing data are too often limited to describe and inform health equity efforts, a Health Evolution Forum work group has been convening over the past year to agree on a consistent set of measures and an approach to collecting, stratifying and analyzing health disparities data. As a reminder, SHVS has an issue brief highlighting state efforts on the collection of race, ethnicity, and langauge data as well as one on the collection of sexual orientation and gender identify data.
- A research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine highlights the effectiveness of the state’s $25 Summer Card pilot program to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 . The letter provides data on guaranteed financial incentives for COVID-19 vaccination. Of 401 vaccine recipients surveyed, 41 percent reported the $25 card was an important reason why they decided to get vaccinated. The cards were more important to respondents who were not white as well as respondents with lower incomes.
- West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Drug Control Policy and the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment are hosting eight virtual public forums to allow residents to review and provide comment to the 2022 West Virginia Substance Use Response Plan. The plan describes the current substance use environment in West Virginia, highlights existing activities and initiatives to date, and presents a framework of evidence-based goals, strategies, and objectives to address the current gaps and needs.
Upcoming SHVS Webinars – Save the Dates!
Enforcement of the No Surprises Act: Considerations for States
Thursday, November 4 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. ET
The No Surprises Act (NSA) takes effect on January 1, 2022, extending comprehensive protections from balance billing to those individuals not already covered by state-enacted protections, including the nearly 135 million people in self-insured plans. Federal regulators are relying on states to be the primary enforcers of the provisions that apply to insurers and providers and facilities, including air ambulances. Enforcement may therefore require state agencies other than departments of insurance to engage in enforcement efforts. To explore enforcement considerations across potentially multiple state agencies, State Health and Value Strategies is hosting a webinar during which experts from the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms and GMMB will provide an overview of federal regulators’ proposed approach to enforcement of the NSA as well as share strategies to consider in planning provider and consumer education efforts. The webinar will also include presentations from three states on their enforcement approaches to the NSA: Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas, followed by a question and answer session.
Registration (required) at the following link: https://rwjfevents.webex.com/rwjfevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e7034dce218696005b333ff292d8abb32
Policy, Operational, and IT System Strategies to Prepare for PHE Unwinding
Wednesday, November 10 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET.
State Health and Value Strategies is hosting a webinar that will provide an overview of strategies for states seeking to ensure that eligible enrollees are able to keep or transition to new affordable health coverage when the public health emergency (PHE) continuous coverage requirement ends. Following the expiration of the PHE, states will resume eligibility and enrollment activities for all enrollees in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As part of their planning for resuming eligibility and enrollment operations, states have an opportunity to retain coverage gains experienced over the pandemic period by taking steps to ensure that eligible enrollees are able to keep Medicaid/CHIP coverage, and those who are eligible for subsidized Marketplace coverage are transitioned and enrolled. Experts from Manatt Health and McKinsey & Company will discuss how states can prepare now by deploying strategies to update enrollee contact information, and make other eligibility and enrollment technology changes to better serve their residents.
Registration (required) at the following link: https://rwjfevents.webex.com/rwjfevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e000b16c081aba26da2289e961feffedf
Perceptions About Healthcare Affordability
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is hosting a webinar to review their most recent research to understand consumers’ experiences with healthcare costs, perceptions of who is to blame, appetite for change and views on a range of potential policy reforms. The poll shows significant bipartisan consensus around many ideas to make healthcare more affordable. The webinar on Thursday, November 4 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm ET will provide an in-depth analysis of how people think about the cost of care and how it may affect their opinions about specific healthcare policies. Join Andrea Ducas, Senior Program Officer at RWJF and Mike Perry of Perry Undem for a briefing and discussion. Register here.
Federal Action Is Needed to Improve Race and Ethnicity Data in Health Programs
Achieving health equity begins with an ability to identify health disparities and their causes. To do that, complete and accurate data on race, ethnicity, and other drivers of health is necessary. Large percentages of race and ethnicity data are missing from federal and state health programs, and little progress is being made towards closing the gaps. To identify the barriers and opportunities, Grantmakers In Health, in collaboration with the National Committee for Quality Assurance, interviewed a variety of stakeholders across the country, representing all levels of the health system. The first of two reports, Federal Action Is Needed to Improve Race and Ethnicity Data in Health Programs, identifies tangible actions to help improve the completeness, accuracy, and usability of race and ethnicity data.