Apr, 19, 2021

State Health Updates

COVID-19 Updates

  • Arizona – AHCCCS, in partnership with Crisis Response Network, announced a new COVID-19 appointment and transportation navigation program for Medicaid members. Medicaid members who need assistance scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, as well as transportation to and from that appointment, can call the designated hotline to schedule an appointment with a trained navigator.
  • Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly kicked off the first COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce meeting this week to promote equitable vaccine distribution in vulnerable communities across Kansas. The group is tasked with breaking down barriers about vaccinations, such as access, transportation, language barriers, or misinformation; and providing information and messages that resonate with Kansans who have questions about the vaccine.
  • Massachusetts – The Baker-Polito administration announced “Red Sox Week” at the Hynes Convention Center to increase access to vaccines for communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Red Sox Week at the Hynes will take place from April 19 to the 25, with 20,000 first dose vaccination appointments being booked for communities of color. Grassroots outreach efforts began this week to fill the appointments.
  • New Jersey – The Murphy administration announced that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to ask for an American Sign Language interpreter when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the state’s six vaccine megasites to assist with communication access during the vaccination process.
  • Wisconsin – The Department of Health Services released improvements to the COVID-19 hospital data webpage. This update puts all COVID-19 hospital data on one page and includes two data dashboards. The COVID-19 hospital capacity dashboard has been expanded to include more information about the status of hospitals throughout Wisconsin. Additionally, data about the percent of COVID-19 cases who are health care workers has been consolidated into one dashboard.

Other State Updates

  • California – Covered California, the state-based marketplace, launched a new special enrollment period (SEP) on Monday to allow Californians to benefit from lower health insurance premiums available through the American Rescue Plan. Along with the new SEP, the agency launched a new statewide ad campaign to show consumers how the new financial assistance could help them and encourages them to check out their options on CoveredCA.com. The SEP runs through the end of the year.
  • District of Columbia – The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority is urging District of Columbia residents to take advantage of potential lower health insurance premiums available through the American Rescue Plan. On March 29, the District opened its on-line health insurance marketplace—DC Health Link—with all expanded health insurance benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan. 
  • Georgia – The state’s Section 1115 demonstration waiver to extend full Medicaid state plan benefits to postpartum women with incomes up to 220 percent of the federal poverty level from 60 days to six months was approved by CMS. The state also will provide continuous eligibility for a woman during the entire postpartum period, ensuring continuity of coverage.
  • Illinois – CMS approved Illinois’ request to amend its Section 1115 demonstration waiver to enable the state to provide full Medicaid coverage to postpartum women with incomes up to 208 percent of the FPL for 12 months. The state will also provide continuous eligibility for a woman during the entire postpartum period, ensuring continuity of coverage.
  • Maryland – Governor Larry Hogan signed three bills into law related to expanding access to telehealth and mental health services. HB 123  requires private insurers, other carriers, and the Medicaid program to reimburse providers for telehealth services provided via audio-only modalities. HB 812 requires the Maryland Department of Health, in consultation with 2-1-1 Maryland, to make certain recommendations relating to the establishment of an opt-in mental health services phone call program. And HB 1280 establishes the Maryland Behavioral Health and Public Safety Center of Excellence within the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services.
  • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Health Connector, the state-based marketplace, published a press release on the new information from the IRS on tax relief for people who received help paying for premium costs through the Health Connector in 2020. For those interested, SHVS also published template language for state-based marketplaces to adapt and use in consumer-facing communications.
  • Minnesota  
    • The Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded almost $1 million to 10 service providers to support people with disabilities to live and engage with others in their communities and access housing and improved employment opportunities.
    • Governor Tim Walz appointed Grace Arnold as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which includes oversight of the state’s division of insurance. 
  • Missouri – The state’s request to provide 12 months targeted SUD and mental health benefits to certain postpartum women was approved by CMS. 
  • Nebraska – Tobacco Free Nebraska and the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline are offering qualified Nebraskans who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a free, four-week supply of quit smoking medication (gum, patch or lozenges) mailed directly to their home. This campaign is in association with CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign.
  • New Jersey
    • Governor Phil Murphy announced new state and federal financial help will be available at Get Covered New Jersey, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, beginning April 15. On top of the federal tax credits, the state is providing new and expanded financial help to residents shopping for coverage at Get Covered New Jersey. State subsidies—called New Jersey Health Plan Savings—will now be available for residents with incomes up to 600 percent of the FPL, up from the previous 400 percent FPL threshold. This was made possible due to the new federal savings, which allowed New Jersey to reallocate a portion of the funding previously provided for state subsidies to increase and expand subsidies to help more people.
    • The Murphy administration announced the expansion of the Opioid Reduction Option program that aims to reduce the amount of opioids provided to patients in emergency rooms and prescribed when they are discharged. The Department of Human Services announced a total of $1,125,000 in grants will be available to approximately 12 health care facilities to help develop and implement practices to reduce unnecessary opioid use.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is providing additional clarification regarding the significant changes coming to the state’s Medicaid program. Those who are now eligible under the expanded eligibility guidelines (as a result of Medicaid expansion) can apply for SoonerCare on June 1, and benefits for those who qualify will begin on July 1. Additionally, on October 1, OHCA will transition to a managed care service delivery model called SoonerSelect.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Tom Wolf announced a partnership, developed by the departments of Human Services and Corrections, that will better connect people who are being released from state correctional institutions with opioid use disorder treatment by connecting them to treatment through one of Pennsylvania’s Centers of Excellence. This process will provide a seamless transition into community-based treatment.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced the Recovery Residence Registry, which will serve as the DHS referral source for those seeking recovery housing options. Recovery residences provide a home-like environment free from alcohol and illicit drug use with a focus on peer support. In addition, recovery housing can connect residents to outpatient services and other recovery support services, as well as assist with efforts to access employment and health services.