Borrowing Proven Policy Strategies to Vaccinate Kids Against COVID-19: Lessons from Past Successes can Provide a Roadmap for Ensuring Equity in Immunization Efforts
With authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five and older, most kids in the United States are now eligible to be immunized. Recent experience with other vaccines shows the country is capable of vaccinating kids widely and equitably, but the challenges in vaccinating adults against COVID-19 and experiences with other immunizations in children, like the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), also demonstrate that success is not inevitable. To meet their COVID-19 vaccination goals to vaccinate kids against COVID-19, states can borrow strategies that have historically proved effective in immunizing kids against diseases such as measles and resulted in dramatic reductions in certain vaccination rate disparities. This issue brief highlights state strategies that have led to high childhood vaccination rates—and dramatic strides toward health equity—and identifies how those strategies could be applied in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis.
The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Data and IT “Table Stakes” for Retaining Coverage Gains
Following the expiration of the Public Health Emergency (PHE), states will resume normal eligibility and enrollment activities for all enrollees in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The volume of expected redetermination activity at the end of the PHE is unprecedented. This issue brief reviews state Medicaid/CHIP agency data and information technology (IT) system “table stakes”—strategies that will have the highest impact for states seeking to ensure that eligible enrollees are able to keep or transition to new affordable health coverage when the PHE continuous coverage requirements end. If adopted, these strategies will also enable states to dramatically improve Medicaid/CHIP enrollment and coverage retention in the longer-term for people eligible for government subsidized health coverage.
Supporting Health Equity and Affordable Health Coverage for Immigrant Populations: State-Funded Affordable Coverage Programs for Immigrants
Access to affordable health coverage and healthcare for immigrant populations in the U.S. is critical to advancing health equity and reducing health disparities. This issue brief—the first in a series “Supporting Health Equity and Affordable Health Coverage for Immigrant Populations”—provides an overview of the national immigrant health coverage landscape and offers considerations for policymakers related to state-funded affordable coverage programs for low-income individuals who do not qualify for subsidized health insurance under the ACA or other public programs due to immigration status.
A Hybrid Funding and Coverage Model to Ensure Universal Access to Mobile Crisis Services
COVID-19, the resulting behavioral health crisis (including those related to mental health and substance use disorders), and calls for law enforcement reform related to behavioral health crisis response have heightened the urgency among federal, state, and local policymakers to expand access to behavioral health crisis services. Recently, the federal government has provided new funding opportunities to states to improve access to behavioral health crisis services, including mobile crisis services. As states review the opportunities available to begin, enhance, or expand mobile crisis intervention services under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, policymakers may further consider a hybrid funding model that provides mobile crisis providers with a consistent and steady stream of funding to ensure they are able to maintain 24/7 availability and respond in a timely manner to all individuals in crisis, regardless of insurance status. Such a new model for funding mobile crisis services could also be designed to hold payers accountable for covering mobile crisis services when their enrolled members use this essential resource. This issue brief presents a sustainable, hybrid coverage and funding approach for mobile crisis services.
Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Data: Considerations for Medicaid and Spotlight on Oregon
Thirteen million people identify as part of a sexual or gender minority (SGM) in the United States, and an estimated 1.17 million of those SGM adults (age 18-64 old) have Medicaid as their primary source of health insurance. Although there has been increasing recognition over the last decade that sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are important determinants of health, the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has amplified the stark health disparities that many vulnerable populations face. Despite gaps and inconsistencies in state and federal reporting on COVID-19, data continues to show that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) have been disproportionately impacted by both higher risks of infection and poorer health outcomes. However, health-related data about SGM populations is particularly scarce. This brief documents how information describing SGM populations is currently collected at the federal level and in Medicaid. The brief also spotlights Oregon’s recent efforts to improve the collection of SOGI data, and present several issues that states should consider as they look to improve their collection of SOGI data in Medicaid.
Strategies for States to Drive Equitable Vaccine Distribution and Administration
Drawing on insights learned through discussions with state officials, informed by grassroots community organization input and a review of the literature, this issue brief outlines key barriers states face in their efforts to increase vaccination rates among BIPOC and highlights strategies states are pursuing in partnership with community-based organizations (CBOs) to address these challenges. This issue brief also considers future phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and planning, including near-term efforts to vaccinate children and adolescents, as well as longer-term opportunities to build sustainable infrastructure and capacity to advance health equity related to the pandemic, emergency preparedness, and beyond within state and local public health and health care delivery systems.
Collection of Race, Ethnicity, Language (REL) Data in Medicaid Applications: A 50-state Review of the Current Landscape
This issue brief documents how states are collecting information about race, ethnicity, and language on their Medicaid applications. The information presented here draws from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center’s (SHADAC’s) review of 50 states’ paper Medicaid applications and 33 states’ online Medicaid applications. For this resource, the authors provide an overview of REL data collection standards and examine state Medicaid application’s question structure, answer options, and instructional language. They also provide an overview of the frequency of different iterations of questions and responses and provide state examples to illustrate common and unique data collection practices.
Assessing Enhanced Federal Funding for HCBS Under the American Rescue Plan
The American Rescue Plan Act includes a number of provisions that will significantly impact state and federal health care policies and programs, including enhanced federal funding for state Medicaid spending on home- and community-based services (HCBS). Beginning April 1, 2021 and through March 31, 2022, states will be eligible to receive a 10 percentage point increase in their federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)—the share of state Medicaid spending that is paid for by the federal government—for specified HCBS. This updated brief describes ARP’s HCBS enhanced FMAP provision, CMS’s recent implementation guidance, and considerations and next steps for state policymakers.
Assessing the Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Expansion Following the Enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
A substantial body of evidence indicates that adopting the Medicaid expansion delivers myriad benefits to states and Medicaid enrollees at a modest cost to states. Currently, 12 states have not yet taken up the ACA Medicaid expansion, leaving approximately 2.2 million adults in the so-called “coverage gap” without an affordable source of coverage. The recent enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) makes the fiscal case for Medicaid expansion even stronger by providing states that implement expansion after the enactment of ARP with a significant increase in Medicaid funding. This issue brief describes the ARP matching rate provision and also assesses its fiscal impact for each of the states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, while comparing the available new federal dollars to the cost of expansion.
CMS Guidance to States on Resuming Public Health Program Operations Post the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
On December 22, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released long-awaited guidance to state Medicaid and CHIP agencies on resuming normal operations following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This issue brief provides a high-level summary of the CMS guidance related to: (1) conducting redeterminations for Medicaid enrollees who were continuously enrolled; (2) terminating, or extending where appropriate, temporary flexibilities; and (3) developing a consumer and provider communication strategy.