Feb, 08, 2021

State Health Updates

COVID-19 Updates

  • Alabama – The  Alabama Department of Public Health Immunization Division is accepting proposals to provide coronavirus vaccine activities for high-risk and underserved communities. The purpose of the request for proposals is to support broad-based distribution access and COVID-19 vaccine coverage for populations including racial and ethnic minority populations and rural communities.
  • Nevada – Governor Steve Sisolak released a video message announcing a new Equity and Fairness Initiative aimed at ensuring that equity is a cornerstone of all vaccination efforts. Under this initiative, the state will work with Clark County Emergency Management and Southern Nevada Health District to clarify prioritization lanes, support fair access to vaccines through site selection, and equitable allocation across communities.
  • New Jersey – As part of a virtual Town Hall series on the COVID-19 vaccine, the New Jersey Department of Health is hosting a free public conversation on February 11 led by medical professionals from the state’s Black and Caribbean communities who will address facts, fears, and myths regarding the COVID-19 vaccines. The Department will host a similar forum led by medical professionals from the state’s Latinx communities on February 15.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released new tools to help North Carolinians get their COVID-19 vaccine questions answered and to find vaccine locations in the state, including a new hotline for consumers to get up to date information as well as a new website to help individuals find nearby vaccine locations.
  • Oregon – The state is requiring health benefit plans in Oregon to cover costs of vaccination for COVID-19, following an order by state Public Health Director Rachael Banks. The order mandates that private health plans operating in Oregon not charge patients for most costs related to providing the vaccine. That includes the cost of all doses of the vaccine and associated supplies, and expenses for administering the shot, such as those related to staff time.
  • Utah – The Utah Department of Health is reminding residents that free rapid antigen testing is still being offered by the Utah Department of Health at many locations throughout the state. New sites are targeted each week based on high positivity rates, fewer tests conducted, untreated wastewater sampling, and other surveillance data.
  • District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island – These states announced or extended their respective enrollment periods to provide residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the opportunity to enroll in coverage, mirroring recent action by the Biden administration.

Other State Updates

  • Alaska – Healthy Alaskans, a joint initiative of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, released data showing that Alaska has met its target for or improved on 12 of its 25 health goals. The updated all Alaska scorecard for 2020 can be viewed at www.healthyalaskans.org. In addition, Healthy Alaskans announced that the state health improvement plan, Healthy Alaskans 2030, is now finalized and available on their website.
  • Arizona – AHCCCS awarded a three-year contract to Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation to administer its AHCCCS Housing Program which consists of the permanent supportive housing and housing support programs for individuals with mental health issues who are experiencing homelessness. The contract period is October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2024.
  • Nebraska – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is asking for feedback on its draft Statewide Transition Plan for its four approved Medicaid home and community-based services waivers that provide services to individuals in the community. The public comment period runs from February 1, 2021 to March 2, 2021.
  • New Jersey
    • First Lady Tammy Murphy and Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced the state Medicaid program now covers doula care, while also no longer paying for non-medical early elective deliveries. Also, the Medicaid program will require obstetrical providers, nurse midwives, or other licensed health care professionals to complete a perinatal risk assessment form during an enrollee’s first prenatal visit to help identify trends in risk factors.
    • Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer launched New Jersey’s first Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Action Plan, a comprehensive statewide strategy to prevent and reduce childhood trauma and adversity. The action plan outlines several initiatives to identify, coordinate, and advance programs and services across state government to reduce and prevent ACEs that negatively impact the developing brain and lead to lifelong social, physical, emotional, and economic challenges.
  • New Mexico – BeWellnm, the state-based marketplace, awarded its outreach and education contract to the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce (Hispano). Hispano is a non-profit member-based organization focused on improving economic development, education and job training in New Mexico. The partnership between beWellnm and Hispano will increase awareness among New Mexicans about individual, family and small business health care coverage options.
  • New York – NY State of Health, the state-based marketplace, released a new Outreach Took Kit, which includes resources for certified assistors who enroll New Yorkers into health coverage, as well as partner organizations that share information about NY State of Health and encourage New Yorkers to enroll. The page will be updated throughout the year to reflect key information New Yorkers need to know about enrolling. 
  • Oregon  
    • The Oregon Health Authority announced the first minimum spending floor for hospital community benefit on February 1. Each tax-exempt hospital or hospital system in the state will receive a floor for community benefit spending based on their revenues, prior expenditures, financial health, and the needs of the population served. 
    • Oregon Health Authority released its biennial Oregon Health Care Workforce Needs Assessment report, which shows that the racial/ethnic diversity of the health care workforce does not match the diversity of the Oregon population, with Hispanic/Latinx, African American/Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native providers underrepresented in most licensed health care professions. At the same time, OHA released its evaluation of the Health Care Provider Incentive Program, which showed how Oregon’s incentive programs are performing in addressing workforce challenges.
  • Pennsylvania – Pennie (the state-based marketplace) announced that by the end of its inaugural open enrollment period, nearly 338,000 Pennsylvanians enrolled in coverage, a more than 5,000 person increase over last year. Over 75,000 new customers enrolled in coverage through Pennie, a 9.7 percent year-over-year increase.
  • Wisconsin – Beginning February 1, Wisconsin is covering the treatment for substance use disorder in a residential setting for members of most of its Medicaid programs. The treatment offered uses a “whole patient” approach that is clinically effective, reduces overdoses and deaths, and helps people sustain recovery. Health care providers will determine whether their patients require this level of care using criteria from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The new benefit is offered under a Section 1115 waiver from CMS to cover treatment in larger treatment facilities.