The Federal Government’s Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Questions & Answers
Allison Orris and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Manatt Health
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is moving rapidly to help states and health care providers respond to mounting needs for new sources of funding and flexibility. Congress has passed three COVID-19 stimulus bills, which authorize programmatic changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and Marketplace coverage and also appropriate billions of dollars to support states, localities, and health care providers.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—and its component agencies, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—has issued voluminous guidance outlining new flexibilities available to states and providers, and is working at breakneck speed to approve additional requests from states, to award funds appropriated by Congress, and to issue more guidance about such funding. This Q&A provides a moment-in-time update in response to questions SHVS has received about the federal government’s response.
In this new expert perspective series, State Health and Value Strategies will highlight examples of the work states are engaging in to prepare for and operationalize the unwinding of the continuous coverage requirement to minimize coverage losses. This new series aims to showcase strategies that other states may be interested in adopting and highlight how states are leveraging federal flexibilities.
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, five states—Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia—have publicly released some type of unwinding data (this includes states reporting unwinding data in both a dashboard and a static format, but not states with pre-existing enrollment dashboards that don’t specifically identify unwinding cohorts). SHADAC will update this expert perspective as additional dashboards go live.
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.