Patricia Boozang, Kyla Ellis, and Amy Zhan, Manatt Health
State policymakers are focused on increasing access to and affordability of health care coverage—especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the priorities of the new Biden-Harris administration. Recently, state interest has turned to introducing new state-sponsored coverage and adopting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Basic Health Program (BHP) option.
The BHP is an option, established under Section 1331 of the ACA, that allows states to establish a coverage program for individuals with household income under 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) with federal financial support. To date, BHPs have been established in New York and Minnesota. Both states have seen significant BHP enrollment, due in large part to low consumer premiums and cost-sharing compared with the Marketplace, leading other states to look to the program as a possible strategy to meet their affordability goals.
States—both those with existing BHPs and those interested in implementing a BHP—are also interested in expanding eligibility beyond the current 138 percent to 200 percent FPL population. This could be accomplished through statutory reforms to Section 1331 of the ACA, through a Section 1332 waiver, and/or by establishing a buy-in program to allow residents to purchase low-cost BHP coverage.
This issue brief provides a refresher on the BHP structure as outlined in the ACA, lessons learned from the two states that have implemented the program to date, and considerations for further evolution of the program under legislative or executive action.
To maximize efforts to maintain coverage, state Medicaid agencies and Marketplaces can now leverage digital channels as part of their overall outreach and communications efforts. Rapidly evolving changes in consumer media consumption habits as well as shifts in digital channels, and the ability to leverage data sources, enables granular audience targeting and efficient use of resources. These can be incorporated into an overall integrated outreach and education campaign to maximize renewals and coverage retention.
Individual-level data on race and ethnicity collected within the Medicaid program and in other state agencies is greatly influenced by federal guidance. This expert perspective summarizes the proposed revisions to the federal standards for collecting race and ethnicity that are currently out for comment, and provides considerations for states interested in submitting comments.
The unwinding of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement represents the largest nationwide coverage transition since the Affordable Care Act, with significant health equity implications. Given the intense focus on coverage transitions during the unwinding, some states have initiated plans to publish a data dashboard to monitor progress. To date, three states—Iowa, Minnesota and Utah—have a public data dashboard. SHADAC will update this expert perspective as additional dashboards go live.