Oct, 05, 2021

State Health Updates

  • Arizona – CMS extended AHCCCS’ 1115 waiver demonstration authority for a one-year period, through September 30, 2022, while they continue to review the agency’s 2021-2026 waiver renewal application. The extension grants authority to continue specific programs for a sixth year, including the Targeted Investments Program.
  • Arkansas – The Arkansas Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity is partnering with cities to host community vaccination clinics. Clinics will be open to eligible people needing booster shots and to those who have not yet been fully vaccinated. The community clinics are being held to ensure under-resourced communities have equitable access to vaccines and monoclonal antibodies in convenient locations. Participants will receive lunch and an entry to win a $500 raffle. Flu vaccinations will also be available. As a reminder, SHVS recently published an issue brief, Strategies for States to Drive Equitable Vaccine Distribution and Administration, which highlights state opportunities to build a sustainable public health infrastructure and capacity to advance health equity.
  • California
    • Governor Gavin Newsom signed a suite of bills to help address the homelessness crisis and enhance California’s response to people suffering from mental health issues on the streets. The package of bills increases coordination and accountability of the state’s homelessness spending and bolsters the California Interagency Council on Homelessness’ powers through new data mandates and oversight authorities. Further linking housing with health care, the legislation names California’s Health and Human Services Secretary and Housing Agency Secretary as Co-Chairs of the Council. The package also includes legislation that implements new data mandates under the state’s Homeless Management Information System, allowing policymakers to better track and evaluate the effectiveness of homelessness funding around the state.
    • The California Department of Public Health issued a public health order requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in adult and senior care facilities and those employed in in-home direct care settings. Workers covered by this order must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by November 30, 2021.
  • Kansas – To bolster local organizations supporting health equity in communities across Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly announced the “Increase the Reach” Grant Initiative. The program specifically aims to reach groups that have been socially marginalized and those experiencing low vaccination rates, including both racial and ethnic minority populations as well as rural communities, and empower community organizations promoting equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all Kansans. The grants will enable these organizations to expand access to vaccines and increase vaccine uptake among those who are unvaccinated.
  • North Carolina – Beginning October 4, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) COVID-19 Support Services Program, along with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina will provide food assistance to North Carolinians in 34 counties who face food insecurity resulting from the need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. Additionally, NCDHHS is expanding program eligibility to North Carolinians in those counties who are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19.
  • Minnesota – Governor Tim Walz announced an allocation of $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to help emergency shelters serving vulnerable Minnesotans improve COVID-19 mitigation measures. The funding will support the state’s Emergency Services Program grants, which are awarded to organizations that provide emergency shelter and essential services for people who are homeless. The funds will be competitively awarded, prioritizing investments that acquire or modify shelter spaces to improve prevention of COVID-19 transmission or outbreaks.
  • Missouri – The Missouri Department of Social Services will begin processing adult expansion benefit applications today. Missouri voters approved expansion of eligibility in Missouri’s Medicaid program (MO HealthNet) in a 2020 amendment to the state constitution. After legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Missouri held the expansion amendment to be constitutional.
  • New Jersey
    • Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a comprehensive legislation package aimed at combatting food insecurity. The six bills will commit to addressing hunger by expanding access to the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and its benefits, bolstering school meal programs, and establishing the Office of the Food Insecurity Advocate. Additionally, the Governor also signed legislation which directs the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to include information on SNAP on any materials pertaining to unemployment compensation benefits. 
    • Governor Phil Murphy and members of his administration announced a new web tool designed to link parents, youth, and educators with resources and supports to address youth mental health challenges exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. The webpage, which is accessible through the state’s COVID-19 web portal or by going directly to covid19.nj.gov/youthhelp, is intended to act as a one-stop web resource for programs, services, and supports that specifically address youth behavioral or emotional health concerns. The site​ will ​continually be improved and updated to provide youth, families, and educators with tools to empower themselves to support their own mental health and demystify and destigmatize the need to ask for help. 
  • New York – New York State of Health, the state-based marketplace, posted a training for assister agency supervisors. The goal of this training is to provide a broad overview of the responsibilities of a primary contact or supervisor of an assister agency and provide resources for managing groups of assisters.
  • Pennsylvania – Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin and Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced a new $5 million grant program to help grassroots organizations with encouraging vaccine-hesitant populations to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This program will provide funding to community organizations to educate their community regarding COVID-19 vaccination to address hesitancy concerns and barriers and to provide direction on where and how to schedule a vaccine appointment. Additionally, Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson also addressed vaccine hesitancy among Latino(a) communities and encouraged unvaccinated people to get a COVID-19 vaccine during a visit to the Pennsylvania Latino Convention. 
  • Texas – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is awarding more than $531,000 in grants to four rural Texas hospitals to expand telehealth services for children. The grants will help the hospitals expand or implement telehealth services that connect their patients with pediatric specialists and subspecialists through video chats and phone calls.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’  Office of Drug Control Policy and Bureau for Social Services launched the Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) pilot program. START aims to help parents achieve recovery from substance use disorder and keep children in their home when safe or to reunify the family when safety factors have been remediated. The target population for the child welfare-based intervention is families with children ages zero to five with child protective services involvement due to substance use. The program includes intense and coordinated service delivery between child welfare and SUD/mental health treatment providers.
  • Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico – These states were all granted approval by CMS to establish a state-based exchange. All three states will operate as full state-based exchanges during this year’s open enrollment period.   
  • Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania — The Center for Health Care Strategies announced that the Medicaid directors from these states have been competitively selected to participate as fellows in the 11th class of the Medicaid Leadership Institute. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the program offers an opportunity for Medicaid directors and their key staff to enhance the skills and expertise necessary to successfully lead their Medicaid programs, impact key health outcomes, and advance health equity.