State Health Updates
- Alaska – The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced that as of February 14, 2021, the State of Alaska’s Declaration of Public Health Disaster Emergency (DD), which was in place to manage its response to COVID-19, expired.
- Arizona – Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) announced a new initiative that will make it easier for Medicaid members to get transportation to drive-through COVID-19 vaccination appointments. AHCCCS will reimburse non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers for driving eligible Medicaid members to and from their COVID-19 vaccination appointments, including reimbursement for time spent waiting during the drive-through vaccination process.
- Minnesota – The Minnesota Department of Human Services presented a report on telemedicine utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic at a House Health Finance and Policy hearing on February 23. Increased access to telemedicine has resulted in: improved attendance at appointments, with fewer no-shows and late arrivals; easier access to treatment and involvement of patients’ family members; and receipt of health care services that otherwise would have been skipped due to illness or fear of contracting COVID-19, travel distance or lack of transportation.
- North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Rural Health will present two Vaccine 101 training sessions on March 3 to provide rural North Carolina community members accurate and timely information about the COVID-19 vaccine, address vaccine hesitancy and help slow the spread of the virus.
- Oregon – The Oregon Health Authority published a report on COVID-19 race, ethnicity, language and disability (REALD) data that highlights the inequitable impact of the disease on specific racial and ethnic groups, and challenges faced by those with language, disability and health access barriers. In 2020, the Oregon Legislature passed a law (House Bill 4212) that requires health care providers to collect REALD information at health care visits related to COVID-19, and to share this information with Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
- Utah – The Utah Department of Health renewed a statewide public health order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Utah communities. The order replaces a previous order that expired on February 22, and is effective through March 25, 2021.
- West Virginia – The Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health recently renewed federal waivers allowing for continued safe operation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waivers from United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service allow current WIC participants and eligible families to be certified, obtain benefits and receive nutrition and breastfeeding education virtually as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
- Wisconsin – The Department of Health Services announced that Wisconsin students who are enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher learning and meet certain criteria can now participate in FoodShare and receive assistance to purchase groceries during the pandemic. The provision loosening federal restrictions on these students was included in the COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2020. The duration of these provisions is determined by the length of the federal public health emergency.
Other State Updates
- Delaware – The Department of Health and Social Services is inviting medical providers and practice managers in primary care, women’s health, infectious disease and psychiatry to participate in a program that will train providers to treat opioid use disorder among Medicaid recipients in primary care and other outpatient settings. Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) involves prescribing safe, effective, FDA-approved medications and the OBOT Fellowship Program will help practices design and implement clinical and operational workflows to use medications to treat OUD.
- Minnesota – A recent report published by the Department of Health shows Minnesota’s uninsured rate remained at a the rate of about 5 percent through July 2020 due in part to government efforts to maintain health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans, support employers and people, and to make insurance available through public programs and MNsure, the state’s official health insurance marketplace.
- New Jersey – The Department of Banking and Insurance published a report on whether the state’s surprise billing law, the Out-of-Network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment, and Accountability Act is successfully protecting consumers and reducing overall health care costs. The report provides some insight into who is using the arbitration process and the outcomes. This is the second report issued on the law and covers arbitrations in 2020.