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.
Safety-Net Provider ACOs: Considerations for State Medicaid Purchasers
Michael Bailit and Beth Waldman, Bailit Health Purchasing LLC
With states increasingly moving to develop population-based payment arrangements with provider organizations, the critical role of safety-net providers has become a challenging consideration for states. While safety-net providers typically lack the capital, experience, and/or scale to operate as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), their role in state Medicaid programs underscores their integral role in the implementation of a population-based payment strategy with ACOs. This issue brief, prepared by Bailit Health Purchasing, examines seven safety-net ACOs across five states to understand their origins, organization, characteristics and functions and to identify federal and state policy questions associated with their emergence. The issue brief identifies both challenges facing safety-net provider ACO aspirants and state strategies to support safety-net provider development of ACOs.