October 14 Update

In This Week’s Update:

  • HHS Renews COVID-19 PHE 
  • “Family Glitch” Rule Published
  • Social Needs Screening in Healthcare Settings
  • Families USA Launches New Center to Lower Costs
  • Improving Oral Health
  • State updates: AK, AZ, CA, & more


On October 13, HHS announced the renewal of the federal public health emergency (PHE). As a result, the PHE remains in effect for an additional 90 days, with an end date of January 10, 2023. The impending end of the federal PHE will be one of the most significant health coverage events since the implementation of the ACA. SHVS published an expert perspective to support states as they communicate with enrollees about the PHE unwinding. The expert perspective provides research-based recommendations of terminology for consumer education and outreach. We have also updated our resource which summarizes the timeframes for emergency measures tied to the PHE, including the effective dates and expiration dates, and continue to update our resource page for state officials as they plan to unwind the PHE.


“Family Glitch” Rule

Last week, the rule to fix the “family glitch” in the Affordable Care Act was published in the federal register. The rule amends the regulations for eligibility for premium tax credits to be based on affordability of employer-sponsored coverage including family members, as opposed to the cost of coverage for the employee only. SHVS recently posted a messaging guide for states that includes message points on the family glitch fix. 


Screening for Social Needs in Healthcare Settings

Healthcare providers in clinical settings increasingly screen for social risk factors, but the extent of screening in these settings is not fully understood. The Better Care Playbook spoke with Emilia De Marchis, MD, MAS, lead author of the SIREN report on social screening in healthcare to learn about the state of social needs screenings and implications for people with complex needs and the providers that care for them. The report synthesizes the peer-reviewed literature and knowledge gaps on social screening practices in healthcare, examines the prevalence of social screening in healthcare settings, the validity of social screening tools, and patient and provider perspectives on social screening. The conversation with Dr. De Marchis addresses key findings of the report and how understanding the evidence on social needs screening can help organizations advance health equity.


Families USA Launches New Center to Lower Costs

Families USA launched its new Center for Affordable Whole Person Care whose goal is to revolutionize America’s healthcare system so that the industry is held accountable for delivering affordable, equitable, high-quality healthcare. The center will lay out a policy agenda and produce original research that puts families and people at the center of reform, regardless of the color of their skin, where they were born or what language they speak. The center’s policy agenda includes urging elected officials to redesign the sector’s economic incentives to align with the needs of consumers and families, and implement policies that rein in healthcare prices and make healthcare more affordable. In conjunction with the launch, Families also released a new report, When What is Right is Also Popular: The Case for Person-Focused Care Through Payment Reform. The report lays out the popular case for payment reform as a way to bring down healthcare costs, improve care and eliminate inequities.


Strengthening Oral Health in the U.S.

Oral health is closely tied to overall health and wellbeing, but the ability for low-income individuals to access dental care is often a factor of where they live, as states are not required to include dental services for adults in their Medicaid programs. Over the past year, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has hosted monthly convenings of state health officials to discuss policy topics at the intersection of oral health, social determinants of health, health equity, and overall health. A recent NASHP blog post details state actions on oral health that were highlighted during these convenings. Topics included integrating oral health across physical and behavioral health sectors, workforce innovations, and opportunities for federal-state collaboration.


State updates: AK, AZ, CA, KS, MD, MI, MN, NM, OR, VA, WI, & WV

  • Alaska – The Alaska Department of Health announced an expansion of Project Gabe, an initiative that launched in June to provide opioid misuse awareness, education and prevention resources to a broader range of industries across Alaska. To date, around 250 Project Gabe boxes containing naloxone, fentanyl test strips and educational materials have been installed in seafood processing plants and other businesses. Starting this month, Project Gabe will provide opioid overdose emergency boxes and prevention education to additional regions and industries.
  • Arizona – CMS announced it approved the state’s request to extend for an additional five years its current section 1115 demonstration “Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System” as well as an amendment to the demonstration entitled “Housing and Health Opportunities” (H2O). Approval of H2O will allow the state to test interventions that target critical drivers of health outcomes, including housing insecurity. Through the H2O program Arizona will, among other services, provide rent and temporary housing for up to six months for individuals transitioning out of places such as congregate settings, homeless shelters, the child welfare system, and a range of other options to transition more people out of homelessness.
  • California – Governor Gavin Newsom announced that 12 organizations were awarded a total of $53 million in grants to create more residential care options for older adults and adults with disabilities, including people at risk for or experiencing homelessness.
  • Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly announced that the state of Kansas and the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas have together received $17.2 million in federal grant funding to address the opioid crisis. The funding will be used to increase access to treatment for substance use disorders, remove barriers to public health interventions like naloxone, and expand access to recovery support services.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Department of Health announced that more than 500,000 Marylanders have received their COVID-19 primary vaccines and booster shots from their family doctors via the Maryland Department of Health’s Maryland Primary Care Program’s (MDPCP) Vaccine Program. The MDPCP, which was launched in March 2019, is engaged with more than 500 primary care practices across the state to encourage the more than four million Marylanders they serve to be COVIDReady by staying up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
  • Michigan – To help remove barriers and ensure more Michiganders have access to COVID-19 outpatient treatments, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) launched a Test to Treat program at 13 locations across the state that offer no-cost testing and telehealth services. Test to Treat sites allow individuals to access testing, a health assessment and medication prescriptions all in one visit. Michigan is the first state to launch this federal initiative at neighborhood testing sites that provide rapid access to no-cost COVID-19 antiviral medications.
  • Minnesota – The Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Health Equity released a new request for proposals for the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative, a grant program established to provide direct investments in organizations focused on improving the health and well-being of American Indians and people of color.
  • New Mexico – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the recipients of $10 million in funding through the Food Security Grant to invest in infrastructure improvements for New Mexico’s food system, part of a larger $24 million investment to address hunger secured by the governor during the 2022 legislative session. Funding has been awarded to 40 projects in 26 counties that will benefit an estimated 477,000 New Mexicans—around a quarter of the state’s population.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Health Authority is soliciting grant proposals for the creation and operation of peer-run respite programs by state-based organizations for people who experience a mental health crisis or emotional distress that may lead to a higher level of care. Peer-run respites are voluntary, non-clinical, short-term residential programs operated in home-like settings for people experiencing emotional distress. The respites are staffed by people with lived experience and run independently of other behavioral health support providers.
  • Virginia – The State Corporation Commission has awarded GetInsured a contract for the technology platform to transition Virginia to a state-based health insurance exchange. The transition will be completed in fall 2023.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Behavioral Health was awarded $1,678,044 over five years in federal funding for the West Virginia Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Program, an initiative serving adults with serious mental illness who have co-occurring physical health conditions and chronic diseases and adults with a substance use disorder.
  • Wisconsin
    • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced Governor Tony Evers is directing $16 million in grants to improve maternal and child health. The initiative provides funding to DHS’ Maternal and Child Health Program to fund maternal and child health equity initiatives intended to combat maternal and infant mortality at the community and systems-level and strengthen health outcomes for families across Wisconsin.
    • DHS announced that 120,600 fentanyl test strips have been distributed to organizations across the state to help prevent drug overdose deaths. Drugs mixed with fentanyl are the leading cause of overdose deaths in Wisconsin. With information from the test, a person can take steps to reduce their risk of an overdose. The first phase of the DHS fentanyl test strip distribution program is a partnership with tribal nation health clinics, county health and human services departments, county and municipal health departments, and organizations that work with people who inject drugs. Other types of organizations are expected to be eligible to participate in the program in future phases.