Sep, 13, 2021

State Health Updates

  • Arizona – The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, through the Children’s Behavioral Health Services Fund, is now providing behavioral health care services to elementary and secondary school students regardless of insurance coverage. Services can include counseling, therapy, and other treatments for common mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues students face. Students enrolled in a pre-K through grade 12 public institution who have little to no health care insurance only need a referral from a participating school to take advantage of the program.
  • California
    • Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration announced the next phase of its homeless housing initiative, Homekey, with the release of funds from the Governor’s $2.75 billion investment to expand the program to purchase and rehabilitate buildings and convert them into up to 14,000 more permanent, long-term housing units for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The California Department of Housing and Community Development released the latest Notice of Funding Availability for local governments to apply for Homekey funding.
    • Covered California announced a special enrollment period for Californians who will soon be losing the federal financial help that is allowing them to continue receiving health insurance through COBRA. When the American Rescue Plan’s COBRA subsidies cease at the end of September, consumers who are still eligible to continue their COBRA coverage can choose to pay the full premium or switch to Covered California, either immediately or during the upcoming open-enrollment period, to have new coverage for all of 2022. 
  • Colorado – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updated its COVID-19 website to include a new vaccine breakthrough data visualization. The new visualization provides proportional case, hospitalization, and death rates by vaccination status as well as toggles that allow the user to display breakthrough data by vaccine type and demographic information like age, gender, and race/ethnicity.
  • Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging Congress to pass legislation that would create a program filling the coverage gap in Kansas and other states that have not expanded Medicaid. In the letter, Governor Kelly states that passing H.R. 4595, the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, or including similar provisions in the pending budget and reconciliation process, would allow eligible residents of non-expansion states like Kansas to access full Medicaid coverage at no additional cost to states or the federal government and would provide health care to approximately 165,000 Kansans.
  • Louisiana – The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced that Patrick Gillies joined LDH as the new Medicaid Executive Director. Gillies has more than 20 years of experience in health care administration on both the state and federal levels. Welcome Patrick!
  • Maine – DHHS announced the hiring of a director for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Population Health Equity, a newly established office devoted to identifying and addressing health disparities throughout Maine. Ian Yaffe, who currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of DHHS’ COVID-19 Social Supports Program, was selected following a national search.
  • New Mexico – The New Mexico Human Services Department submitted its general fund budget request of $1.4 billion for the next fiscal year. The department is proposing 14 program expansions and changes that are designed to improve programs and services to New Mexicans, such as extending postpartum Medicaid benefits, implementing evidence-based and trauma responsive behavioral health care, and developing a Crisis Now System of Care to promote use of 988, a nationwide mental health crisis and suicide prevention number. 
  • Ohio
    • The Ohio Department of Medicaid projected a go-live date for the Next Generation managed care launch for July 1, 2022. While the initial timeline targeted implementation for January 2022, it did not anticipate the persistence of COVID-19 and its impact on individuals served by the program and their providers.
    • The Ohio Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee of the Ohio General Assembly reported that per member per month Medicaid costs are expected to rise between 3.1 percent and 4.0 percent in fiscal 2022 and between 3.1 percent and 4.1 percent in fiscal 2023, according to an analysis by actuarial firm Optumas.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has created a mobile-friendly version of, Oklahoma’s Medicaid online enrollment portal. The secure website allows more Oklahomans to apply and renew their SoonerCare benefits from their smartphones. Nearly 30 percent of attempted or completed applications received in July were done by Oklahomans using a smartphone. Before the update, applicants and members would navigate the application as they do with a traditional desktop browser, which resulted in having to log in and out or quit the application process until they could access a computer.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Health Authority is encouraging families with newborns to take advantage of the free, optional nurse home visiting program known as Family Connects Oregon, which continues its roll-out in communities statewide. Family Connects Oregon, which launched in February 2020 following the passage of legislation, provides voluntary, universally offered nurse home visiting services to all families with newborns living in the state, no matter their income, location or insurance status. Oregon is the first in the country to offer these services statewide and require private insurance providers to pay for them.
  • Texas
    • The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) released a draft of its request for proposals (RFP) for STAR Health, which provides integrated physical and behavioral health services to children and young adults in the foster care system. Dental, vision, pharmacy, and personal care services are also included. The final RFP is scheduled for release on October 25, 2021. HHSC will award one, six-year contract with up to three two-year renewals.
    • In anticipation of the upcoming solicitation and resulting contract for STAR+PLUS, which serves individuals who have disabilities or are age 65 or older, HHSC issued a request for public comment seeking input on the proposed Best Value Criteria the agency will use to evaluate and select the successful respondent.