On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the ARP), a wide-ranging package of health care and economic measures responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The ARP includes a broad expansion of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) main health insurance subsidy, the premium tax credit (PTC), the first major expansion of the health care reform law since its passage. This piece highlights the policymaking considerations that states must account for in light of the PTC expansion and uncertainty about future federal action. A key theme that emerges is that states will benefit from approaches that give them the flexibility to adjust policies year by year as the federal landscape develops.
Supporting Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs During COVID-19
On Tuesday, December 15 State Health and Value Strategies hosted a webinar on how states can support children and youth with special health care needs during COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant health and economic hardships for many children and families—particularly children and youth with special health care needs. Children who receive health services in school settings to support their education are losing access to those services as schools limit—or eliminate altogether—in-person instruction. In addition, a pre-COVID-19 shortage of home health providers has worsened due to the pandemic, placing a significant burden on families who rely on home health services or who choose, for safety, not to have home health providers come into their homes. The result can lead to gaps in care and caregiver burnout, putting children and youth with special health care needs at risk of regression and long-term negative health outcomes. Recognizing these risks, states and the federal government have broadly expanded telehealth coverage, established continuous coverage requirements and eased regulatory requirements for delivery of services.
The webinar, produced by Manatt Health with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Voices, and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, explored strategies for state Medicaid agencies to enforce coverage requirements and make permanent the temporary regulatory flexibilities that have expanded access to services during the pandemic.