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.
Overview of Alternative Medicaid Expansion Waivers
Patricia Boozang, Deborah Bachrach, and Mindy Lipson, Manatt Health
Section 1115 waivers allow states to waive certain Medicaid statutory requirements in order to advance state policy priorities and test innovations in their Medicaid programs, provided that they are budget neutral and “further the goals of the Medicaid program.” Since 2014, seven states have used 1115 waivers to implement alternative Medicaid expansions, and these waivers are likely to be leveraged by states in the next four years to advance changes to Medicaid. This issue brief, developed by Manatt Health, provides an overview of the features of these alternative Medicaid expansion waivers. The document describes how approved waivers have approached aspects including premiums, cost-sharing, Health Savings-like Accounts, healthy behavior incentives, and several others, and can provide insight into state policy priorities and suggest areas where states may seek future waivers.