November 14 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • New SHVS State Spotlight Series
  • Continuity of Coverage Expert Perspective
  • Improving Data to Advance Health Equity Solutions
  • Equity Changemakers Institute
  • Rural Health Equity Toolkit
  • State updates: AR, CA, CO, MN, NY, PA, SC, SD & WI


New SHVS State Spotlight Series

Last week, the first publication in a new series, State Spotlight: California’s Landmark Coverage Expansion for Immigrant Populations went live. State Health and Value Strategies believes that states are the laboratories for healthcare innovation, and the State Spotlight series will showcase innovative state efforts. The first State Spotlight reviews California’s approach to expanding health coverage to all lower-income residents, regardless of immigration status, in an effort to help the state’s 3.2 million remaining uninsured gain access to coverage. 


Continuity of Coverage Expert Perspective

Also last week, SHVS published a new expert perspective that highlights state strategies to maximize continuity of coverage for consumers coming off Medicaid and needing to transition to the marketplace at the end of the public health emergency. It focuses both on minimizing gaps in coverage and on maximizing successful enrollment overall. 


Improving Data to Advance Health Equity Solutions

The CMS Office of Minority Health published The Path Forward: Improving Data to Advance Health Equity Solutions, a blog post which outlines a plan to tackle health equity data efforts across CMS programs to achieve health equity by underlining the importance of health equity data collection and chart the next steps for CMS to improve data collection efforts. In the post, Dr. LaShawn McIver, the Director of the CMS Office of Minority Health, highlights how the need for appropriate data is a key priority for CMS’ stakeholders and it is the first priority of CMS’ recently released CMS Framework for Health Equity. Dr. McIver explains how CMS intends to move forward with their future vision for health equity data by collecting new health equity elements, aligning standards, implementing health equity scores, and providing industry with the tools and data needed to further drive health equity goals and actions.


Equity Changemakers Institute

Equity Changemakers Institute (Changemakers), led by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), is a 10-month leadership development program to bolster the capacity of public sector leaders who have significant oversight over agency efforts to advance health equity. Changemakers aims to support these leaders in cultivating the skills to drive transformational change and positively impact the health of those who live in their states/territories by: strengthening participants’ knowledge and skills to enhance inclusive leadership and advance an organization’s equity strategy; increase knowledge and use of policy levers to advance health equity, reduce disparities in healthcare, and improve health outcomes; increasing capacity and resiliency to navigate power structures, organizational cultures, and potential resistance while building consensus among a range of stakeholders in promoting policies that support more equitable health outcomes; and building peer relationships and fostering a network of state and territory leaders leading health equity initiatives to better sustain long-term change. CHCS is accepting applications for the 10-month leadership development program beginning in February 2023.


Rural Health Equity Toolkit

A new toolkit produced by the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis in collaboration with the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) compiles evidence-based frameworks and promising strategies and resources to support organizations working toward health equity in rural communities across the United States. The modules in the toolkit contain information and resources focused on developing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining rural programs that focus on health equity. The modules include an overview of health equity in the United States and unique challenges faced by rural communities; models to incorporate health equity into rural community health programs; examples of promising programs implemented in rural communities to advance health equity; important issues to consider when implementing a rural program that addresses health equity; tools to support the evaluation of a rural program that addresses health equity; resources to help with planning for the sustainability of a rural program that addresses health equity; and ideas and resources for disseminating findings from a rural program that addresses health equity.


State updates: AR, CA, CO, MN, NY, PA, SC, SD & WI 

  • Arkansas – The Department of Human Services announced it will award mini grants to community-based organizations (CBOs) to engage Medicaid enrollees in preparation for the end of the public health emergency. The mini grants will support CBOs’ outreach and engagement efforts and assistance with the renewal process.
  • California – The Department of Health Care Services is partnering with Costco Wholesale Corporation (Costco) to expand access to prescription drugs under Medi-Cal Rx, the Medi-Cal pharmacy program. Medi-Cal members will now be able to fill their prescriptions at one of Costco’s 122 pharmacy locations across the state.
  • Colorado – The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing is hosting a webinar on preparing for the end of the public health emergency. The webinar is geared toward community partners such as advocacy organizations, providers, and community organizations who may provide other assistance, such as housing or social services, to Health First Colorado or CHP+ members. The webinar will provide an overview of communication resources for partners to assist members in preparing for and taking part in the renewal process.
  • Minnesota – The Health Economics Program of the Minnesota Department of Health has released an issue brief on patterns of healthcare spending, utilization, and prices in Minnesota between 2016 and 2020. Analyzing data from the Minnesota All Payer Claims Database, the report finds that healthcare spending by privately insured Minnesotans grew by 19% from 2016 to 2019 driven largely by an increase in healthcare prices. From 2019 to 2020, healthcare spending fell 4.2%, as COVID-19 disrupted healthcare delivery and reduced healthcare utilization.
  • New York – Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order to create the state’s first-ever Master Plan for Aging. The executive order directs the Commissioner of the State Department of Health and the Director of the State Office for the Aging to head a Master Plan for Aging Council, which will gather input from relevant stakeholders to draft guidance for building healthy, livable communities that offer opportunities for older adults.
  • Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys celebrated the signing into law of Senate Bill 225 by Governor Wolf, which will reform the prior authorization process in Pennsylvania and give the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) authority over external reviews of benefit determinations under the Affordable Care Act. The new authority was, until signing of the legislation, deferred to the federal government. Regaining authority over the external review process will allow PID to assist consumers by promptly responding to appeals of prior authorization denials and understanding the scope of any given insurer’s adverse benefit determinations.
  • South Carolina – The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is implementing a one-time supplemental payment to qualified in-home, case management or adult day services providers delivering services to people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports. The one-time supplemental payments are supported through funds made available by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services (HCBS). As a reminder, SHVS published an issue brief on the ARP’s HCBS enhanced federal medical assistance percentage provision.
  • South Dakota – Voters approved a ballot measure to amend the state’s constitution to implement Medicaid expansion. The measure, which passed with 56% support, is estimated to provide coverage to an additional 42,500 adults.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services awarded $12 million through the ARP HCBS enhanced funding provision to 43 organizations that will focus on improving HCBS services for people who are elderly or have disabilities. The awarded projects reach both urban and rural areas of the state and use creative ways to make a positive impact on the direct care workforce through activities like technology to address workforce shortages; incentive recruitment and retention strategies; and innovative and targeted marketing.