Implications of Health Care Provisions for States in the Second COVID Stimulus Bill
Manatt Health and Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms
As the United States struggles to slow the spread of COVID-19, preparing for and mitigating the impact of the crisis on the economy, the health care system and the population is dominating the focus of Congress, the Administration and state governments. After rapid action, Congress passed two initial COVID-19 bills and is expected to pass a third–much larger—economic stimulus package, with possibly a fourth package in the coming weeks. The second bill, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (enacted March 18), focuses largely on ensuring access to free testing as well as Medicaid fiscal relief; it also includes emergency supplemental appropriations to agencies on the front lines of the response to the pandemic, $1 billion in food aid, the establishment of an emergency paid leave benefits program, and the extension of sick leave benefits.
During the webinar, experts from Manatt Health and Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms explored the key health care provisions in the second COVID-19 stimulus bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the implications for state Medicaid and CHIP agencies, state departments of insurance, and state-based Marketplaces. The webinar included a question and answer session during which webinar participants can pose their questions to the experts on the line.
Medicaid enrollment has increased by over 10 million (or 15 percent) from February 2020 through February 2021 across all states since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. States have a clear imperative to center health equity as they plan for the end of the public health emergency (PHE) given that Black, Latino/a, and other people of color are most at risk of coverage loss. This expert perspective highlights strategies states can implement to ensure that the end of the PHE does not exacerbate already widespread racial and ethnic disparities in our health care system.
COVID-19 vaccines are now widely accessible in the United States and free to everyone over the age of 12. Given the spread of the Delta variant, there is an urgent need to increase vaccination rates, particularly among Medicaid enrollees. States across the country continue to report Medicaid enrollees are getting vaccinated at lower rates than the general population. This expert perspective explores how state Medicaid managed care programs and health plans can work collaboratively to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates for the more than 55 million Medicaid enrollees in comprehensive managed care plans.
Many states are looking to fill gaps in race and ethnicity data for Medicaid and related agencies. Working with the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota, with support from the State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS) program, New York tested multiple strategies aimed at encouraging applicants to answer the optional race and ethnicity questions. This expert perspective highlights an effort by New York’s official state-based marketplace, NY State of Health, to improve the completeness of race and ethnicity data that applicants share when applying for Medicaid; Child Health Plus, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the Essential Plan, New York’s Basic Health Program (BHP); or Qualified Health Plan (QHP) coverage through its Marketplace.