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.
Waivers of the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion: Emerging Opportunities and Challenges
On June 21, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health and Value Strategies program, together with technical assistance experts from Manatt Health, hosted a webinar to discuss the status of state efforts to secure waivers to use federal Medicaid funding to provide care in Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD). The webinar reviewed the requirements states must meet to secure an IMD waiver; the status of requests and approvals; and issues and opportunities arising as states pursue and increasingly implement the IMD waiver. We were joined by leadership from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which received approval of its IMD waiver in October 2017 and is now in the implementation phase.