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.
Medicaid’s Crucial Role in Combating the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Crisis
Patti Boozang, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, and Gayle Mauser, Manatt Health
Medicaid has a pivotal role in improving national health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women. Nearly half of all U.S. births are financed by Medicaid. Medicaid-enrolled pregnant women are more likely than women enrolled in private coverage to have had a preterm birth, to have had a low birthweight baby, and to experience certain chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes)—putting them at higher risk for poor maternal outcomes. States have flexibility to shape Medicaid policy related to maternal care, including who is covered, the duration of their coverage, the benefits they receive, and the delivery system through which they receive care. Further, state Medicaid agencies, in partnership with sister agencies, can use their purchasing power and “bully pulpit” to drive broader policy and cultural change to improve maternal health outcomes and the lives and health of mothers and of their children.
This issue brief, developed by our colleagues at Manatt Health, describes select policy and strategy levers that Medicaid agencies can employ to improve maternal health outcomes and address outcome disparities in five areas: coverage, enrollment, benefits, models of care, and quality improvement. In some cases, the Medicaid agency will be responsible for implementing these policies; in other cases, the Medicaid agency can lead collaboration with other state agencies such as the public health department or the state marketplace.
On March 11, State Health and Value Strategies hosted a companion webinar that highlighted and discussed select strategies from the issue brief.