Nov, 23, 2020

State Health Updates

COVID-19 Updates

  • California – Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to immediately direct $62 million in one-time funds from the State’s Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account to counties around the state to continue providing housing to current Project Roomkey participants. After consultation with the Legislature, the Administration is making these available immediately to local governments with Project Roomkey sites so that clients living in motel or hotel rooms under the program will not be forced to return to street homelessness while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact California.
  • District of Columbia – The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (the state-based exchange) and the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced findings from an online survey of residents. Approximately 92 percent of District residents report being worried about the coronavirus pandemic. More than half (56%) are concerned about losing their health insurance, and four out of five residents worry they or their family members could contact COVID-19. The survey also shows that overall COVID-19 concern levels are higher among African American and White residents (both 93%) compared to Hispanic residents (81%).
  • Maryland  
    • Governor Larry Hogan announced that since the Maryland Department of Health launched MD COVID Alert last week, more than 1 million Marylanders have subscribed to the COVID-19 exposure notifications express system. 
    • Governor Larry Hogan also announced the commitment of $70 million in CARES Act funding for new investments for initiatives to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding includes support for PPE, unemployment insurance measures, relief for renters, mass vaccination planning, and support for food banks and foster care.
  • Minnesota – Minnesota announced that according to a new national report, the state has ranked the best in the nation in sharing essential COVID-19 information through its online dashboard. The report analyzed the quality and breadth of COVID-19 information shared by all 50 states and found that Minnesota had the strongest COVID-19 data dashboard in the nation. As a reminder, SHVS is tracking states’ reporting of health equity data in their COVID-19 dashboards and new state activity related to data collection, including examples of collecting additional data measures and creating taskforces to advance health equity.
  • Nebraska – The Department of Health and Human Services is reminding residents that secondary outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic stress, are colliding with depression and a rising suicide risk. The Department is sharing information and resources for affected residents to get help to prevent suicide.
  • New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new web application that will help struggling New Yorkers locate benefits to assist them during their time of need. Developed through a public-private partnership with, the user-friendly social services discovery application will help individuals who are either new to or unfamiliar with the state’s social programs network access needed services.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Tom Wolf announced that more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have added their phone to the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus by downloading the COVID Alert PA mobile application.
  • Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s revised biennial budget to finalize CARES Act funding allocations for previously announced state initiatives to address COVID-19.
  • Wisconsin – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the state Department of Health Services pledged an additional $80 million to support Wisconsin’s skilled nursing facilities through the end of the year. In addition, to address critical staffing shortages, DHS is partnering with the Departments of Safety and Professional Services and Workforce Development to enhance existing efforts to strengthen the workforce in Wisconsin’s health care and long-term care settings.

Other State Updates

  • Minnesota – MNsure, the state-based marketplace, announced that since the start of MNsure’s OEP on November 1, nearly 102,000 Minnesotans have signed up for 2021 private health insurance coverage–approximately 10 percent more than this time last year.
  • Oklahoma – The state is designing a statewide health information exchange to allow health information to flow securely to and from authorized organizations and individuals in Oklahoma. The health information exchange is expected to launch in the fall of 2021.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation released data on the most expensive drugs for carriers in the state. Cancer and rheumatoid arthritis brand name drugs continue to be the most costly in the state. The data will be used to inform drug transparency efforts and responses from a public hearing focused on drug prices and consumer experiences will be shared with legislators.
  • Washington  
    • The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is reminding residents to sign up for coverage during OEP and that free in-person help is available. As of November 16, over 188,000 Washingtonians have signed up for 2021 coverage, including over 6,000 new customers. Overall plan selection has increased about 4 percent from last fall at this point. Among new customers, 36 percent have selected a Cascade Care plan. These plans offer deductibles that are on average $1,000 less than other plans, and cover more services prior to meeting a deductible, including primary care visits, mental health services, and generic drugs.
    • Governor Jay Inslee appointed Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH as the new Washington state secretary of health starting December 21. Dr. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas.