The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021 as a signature effort to assist in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn. Included as part of the sweeping legislation is a program to fully subsidize COBRA coverage for six months starting in April of 2021. This expert perspective provides a short overview of COBRA and mini-COBRA, the major elements of the ARPA COBRA Assistance program, and considerations for state policymakers related to the program.
Virtual Care Post-Apex: Rethinking Telehealth Policy After the COVID-19 Surge
As COVID-19 has spread across the country, telehealth has proven to be an essential tool for maintaining access to health services while conforming with social distancing restrictions and reducing unnecessary exposure risk for health care providers and consumers. Nearly all states have, in some way, expanded coverage or reimbursement for telehealth services on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 pandemic and nationally, telehealth visits now account for 10 – 20 percent of overall outpatient utilization. As the first COVID-19 apex passes, state Medicaid programs are now grappling with how to maintain access to telehealth services in a severely budget-constrained environment. States are also considering issues related to telehealth coverage and reimbursement requirement in the commercial market, cross-state licensure flexibilities, consumer uptake of telehealth, and address technology access issues for historically underserved populations. Furthermore, by connecting underserved populations to necessary and timely health care, telehealth can be a tool to advancing health equity; as states continue to address health equity issues, it is important for states to consider ways to maintain access to telehealth services in a manner that ensures a more equitable health care system for all.
On Friday, June 12, State Health & Value Strategies hosted a webinar during which experts from Manatt Health and Georgetown reviewed the current telehealth policy landscape and considerations for states as they design their post-apex telehealth policies. This webinar also included brief remarks by state officials from Colorado and Massachusetts.