On January 15, 2022, health insurers will be subject to new federal requirements to cover and waive cost-sharing for over-the-counter diagnostic tests for COVID-19 for the duration of the federal public health emergency. Past federal guidance required insurers to fully cover COVID-19 tests, but allowed them to require enrollees to first obtain a health professional’s determination that a test is medically necessary. The new requirements, published January 10, enable consumers to obtain the tests directly from pharmacies or online retailers without being seen by a health professional. With case rates surging and the costs of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests ranging from $14 to $34, this new benefit should provide significant financial relief to privately insured individuals. This expert perspective focuses on key provisions of the new coverage requirements as well as health equity considerations and implications for state insurance regulators.
Implementing State Payment Reform Strategies at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
Beth Waldman and Mary Beth Dyer, Bailit Health Purchasing, LLC and James Waldinger, Public Consulting Group
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) traditionally provide health care services primarily to low-income individuals who are covered by Medicaid or who are uninsured. As state Medicaid programs increase their focus on value-based payment, it is important to consider how FQHCs may participate in payment reform strategies. Through their focus on improved health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and access to appropriate care, alternative payment methodologies (APMs) can benefit FQHCs, the state purchaser, and most importantly Medicaid beneficiaries. This brief describes a number of state-level payment reform strategies that include FQHCs and offers strategies and considerations for states and FQHCs alike.