State Health Updates
- The California Department of Public Health released details regarding a health equity metric to help guide counties in their continuing efforts to more effectively fight COVID-19. The equity metric, which is part of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy announced on August 28, is designed to reduce COVID-19 cases in all communities and takes effect on October 6.
- Governor Gavin Newsom signed several COVID-19-related bills into law this week, including the following:
- AB 685, which requires employers to promptly notify employees and the local public health authorities of workplace outbreaks;
- AB 1710, which will allow licensed pharmacists to administer FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines;
- AB 1867, which requires certain employers, including frontline health care workers and food processing facilities, to provide two weeks of paid sick leave; and
- SB 1159, which makes it easier or firefighters, health care workers and other front-line workers infected with the coronavirus to get workers’ compensation.
- North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced a milestone in the use of telehealth and telephonic visits by NC Medicaid enrollees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since establishing telehealth flexibility policies in early March, NC Medicaid has processed claims for approximately more than 1.1 million telehealth and 350,000 telephonic visits.
- Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Open Data Portal now includes more than a dozen new COVID-19 datasets from the Virginia Department of Health. The launch of the new Virginia Open Data Portal was accelerated amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to provide greater access to data for public health officials.
- Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services launched new data designed to give Wisconsinites a better picture of the impact of COVID-19 in the state, what the trends in cases mean, and how to most effectively respond to this virus. In tandem with this data update, DHS also released guidance on mitigation strategies for communities.
Other State Updates
- Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 855 into law which alters California’s regulation of mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) treatment, and applies to all California health plans and disability insurance policies issued, amended or renewed on or after January 1, 2021. Among other changes, SB 855 expands the scope of coverage mandates in the California Mental Health Parity Act and mandates a new, uniform definition of “medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder.”
- Governor Gavin Newsom announced he signed legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. Under the bill, the California Health and Human Services Agency will develop manufacturing partnerships to produce or distribute generic prescription drugs.
- A bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom makes California the second state to allow nurse practitioners to practice independently of a doctor.
- The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing announced the release of a new mobile app for Health First Colorado and CHP+ members.The app can be used by members to see if their coverage is active, find providers and call the Nurse Advice Line, among other functionalities.
- The Department, in collaboration with stakeholders, has developed new processes for eligibility determinations, needs assessments, and support planning for all individuals seeking or receiving long-term services and supports. As part of the a assessment the Department is implementing a Person-Centered Budget Algorithm that will help identify the right amount of support for members based on assessed need, and together with strengths and preferences identified during the assessment, contribute to a person-centered support plan.
- District of Columbia – The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking announced the 2021 approved individual and small business health insurance rates. Rates will increase overall by 0.2 percent for individual coverage and decrease by 0.5 percent for small group coverage.
- Minnesota – The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced final 2021 Minnesota health insurance rates. For the 2021 plan year, 80 counties have three or more health insurance companies offering plans on the exchange, compared to 31 counties with three or more in 2020. Ninety-seven percent of Minnesotans buying health insurance through MNsure will have an average of 30 different qualified health plans and three or more carriers to choose from.
- Nebraska – The Department of Health and Human Services announced that health care benefits for Medicaid Expansion/Heritage Health Adult will begin October 1, 2020, for Nebraskans who have been determined eligible for Medicaid Expansion.
- Pennsylvania – Governor Tom Wolf announced the launch of Life Unites Us, an evidence-based approach to stigma reduction of substance use disorders (SUD), specifically opioid use disorder (OUD). The state-wide campaign is funded by $1.9 million in federal grant funding and is part of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Program’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan goal of reducing the stigma of substance use disorder.