Oct, 27, 2020

State Health Updates

COVID-19 Updates

  • Delaware – Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services announced the creation of a Health Care Relief Fund to support Delaware health care providers through the COVID-19 crisis. The $100 million fund will support providers throughout the health care industry that have been on the front lines fighting COVID-19 in Delaware. This includes home health care agencies, intellectual and developmental disability providers, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, behavioral health service providers, and Delaware’s hospital systems. Healthy Communities Delaware, a statewide public-private partnership that works to address social determinants of health, also will receive funding for distribution to Delaware communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
  • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Health Connector, the state-based exchange, selected 18 community-based navigator organizations to provide health insurance enrollment help to residents, including 10 with newly-expanded capacity to provide additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the Health Connector’s walk-in centers remain closed. In order to help applicants and members who rely on the walk-in center for support, the Health Connector is providing additional capacity opportunities by having these 10 navigator organization maintain additional support through September 2021. These organizations will provide additional staff and hours to support people who need help or have questions about their coverage.
  • New Jersey
    • Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer announced the Departments will use federal Coronavirus Relief Fund resources to provide up to $25 million to help providers of home health, developmental disability, child welfare, and homeless services remain open and accessible during the pandemic by reimbursing for the added costs they are incurring due to COVID-19 for essentials such as PPE and enhanced cleaning. 
    • Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation which requires public health emergency credits to be awarded to certain inmates and parolees during a public health emergency. Under the bill, public health emergency credits would be awarded to any adult inmate or juvenile who is within 365 days of their scheduled release. Credits would accrue at the rate of 122 days (four months) for each month, or portion of each month, served during the declared emergency with a maximum of 244 days (eight months) of remission to be awarded for any declared emergency period. The legislation includes certain exclusions and prohibits inmates or parolees to contact their victims upon their release.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Health Benefits (NC Medicaid) is extending temporary provider rate increases related to COVID-19 through the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency, which goes through Jan. 21, 2021.
  • Pennsylvania – The Wolf Administration participated in a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine project, which resulted in the report: Decarcerating Correctional Facilities During COVID-19. The report, which was funded by Arnold Ventures and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers guidance on efforts to decarcerate, or reduce the incarcerated population, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Washington – Governor Jay Inslee announced the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund is now open for applications. The relief fund will provide $40 million in federal funds allocated by the state to assist Washington workers who miss work due to COVID-19, but are unable to access federal stimulus programs and other social supports due to their immigration status. While the fund is operational, eligible recipients will receive $1,000, with a limit of $3,000 per household. 
  • Wisconsin – The Department of Health Services released a new data dashboard that displays COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by race and ethnicity. This new visualization helps illustrate some of the unequal health impacts of COVID-19 in our communities, particularly among people of color. The race and ethnicity dashboard is part of an ongoing effort to close health disparities throughout the state by promoting tools and resources centered on health equity. For more information and other examples of state activity, see the SHVS expert perspective on Advances in States’ Reporting of COVID-19 Health Equity Data.

Other State Updates

  • California – Covered California, the state-based exchange, announced that the renewal process for a record number of enrollees is now underway — with more than 1.5 million Californians eligible to renew their coverage. In addition, the preliminary rate change that Covered California previously announced in August has been revised downward to a new all-time low of 0.5 percent for the 2021 plan year.
  • Nebraska – CMS announced its approval of Nebraska’s new Medicaid Section 1115 demonstration called “Heritage Health Adult.” This demonstration is designed to create a pathway for certain Nebraska adults with newly gained Medicaid coverage to access additional benefits if they participate in certain activities, including wellness initiatives, personal responsibility activities, and community engagement activities, to promote health and independence. This demonstration is effective October 20, 2020, through March 31, 2026, with implementation beginning April 1, 2021.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), the state’s Medicaid agency, released an RFP to contract with MCOs to deliver risk-based managed care services to SoonerCare children, deemed newborns, pregnant women, parent and caretaker relatives, and expansion adults. OHCA also intends to contract with one MCO to deliver statewide risk-based managed care services for SoonerCare eligibles who are former foster children, juvenile justice-involved, in foster care or children receiving adoption assistance.
  • Pennsylvania
    • The Department of Insurance announced Pennsylvania’s approved 2021 individual and small group ACA health insurance rates, highlighting a statewide average decrease of 3.3 percent in individual market rates, attributable to the new state-based exchange and reinsurance program.
    • Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine shared a tool that highlights the critical questions for Pennsylvanians to ask their health care providers so they improve their health literacy to make appropriate health decisions, especially as COVID-19 and the flu remain a threat to Pennsylvanians.
  • Washington – The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange, the state-based marketplace, is seeking to contract with one vendor/consulting firm to explore how the health of customers can be further improved, and how persistent disparities can be further reduced by addressing SDOH. This will require exploring how WAHBE’s statutory authority, organizational strengths, internal resources, existing partnerships, and upcoming projects/strategic initiatives could be leveraged, and identifying where WAHBE is uniquely positioned to contribute.
  • Wisconsin – The Department of Human Services announced that beginning October 24, 2020, Medicaid members that are incarcerated will have their health care benefits suspended and then re-evaluated before they are released from jail or prison so that they have coverage immediately upon release. Previously, Medicaid members who became incarcerated had their coverage terminated, which then often delayed their access to medical and behavioral health care following their release.