The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021 as a signature effort to assist in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn. Included as part of the sweeping legislation is a program to fully subsidize COBRA coverage for six months starting in April of 2021. This expert perspective provides a short overview of COBRA and mini-COBRA, the major elements of the ARPA COBRA Assistance program, and considerations for state policymakers related to the program.
Ensuring Access to LTSS During COVID-19: Exploring a State Resource Guide Produced by Manatt Health and The SCAN Foundation
On Friday, July 10, State Health and Value Strategies hosted a webinar during which experts from Manatt Health presented key findings from a new COVID-19 state resource guide, funded by The SCAN Foundation. People who use long-term services and supports (LTSS), including individuals dually-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, are particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and experiencing severe symptoms. We have seen COVID-19 have a devastating impact on people with complex care needs receiving care in nursing homes and other congregate care settings, in particular. To date, over 50,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, representing up to 40 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths. Although there is less transparency on the impact of COVID-19 on people receiving LTSS in the community, we know that care has been disrupted due to caregivers being subject to stay-at-home orders, having no access to child care, lacking access to PPE to provide care safely, or quarantining after being sick or exposed to COVID-19.
In the resource guide, Manatt Health identifies federal and state Medicaid flexibilities available to state officials and other stakeholders and how those flexibilities are being deployed during COVID-19 to help ensure access to LTSS. The resource guide highlights examples of how states are ensuring continued access to LTSS by expanding the types of settings in which services can be delivered, bolstering pay and other supports for LTSS providers, and addressing barriers to care created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states are turning their attention to considering which flexibilities they want to “unwind,” which they want to retain to respond to future COVID-19 outbreaks or other public health emergencies, and which they want to make permanent to strengthen and improve LTSS care delivery. The webinar provided examples of how states are approaching answering these questions.