The American Rescue Plan Act includes a number of provisions that will significantly impact state and federal health care policies and programs, including enhanced federal funding for state Medicaid spending on home- and community-based services (HCBS). Beginning April 1, 2021 and through March 31, 2022, states will be eligible to receive a 10 percentage point increase in their federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)—the share of state Medicaid spending that is paid for by the federal government—for specified HCBS. This brief describes ARPA’s HCBS FMAP increase provision, the requirements for states receiving the enhanced federal funding, and considerations and next steps for state policymakers.
CMS Guidance to States on Resuming Public Health Program Operations Post the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
On December 22, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released long-awaited guidance to state Medicaid and CHIP agencies on resuming normal operations following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This issue brief provides a high-level summary of the CMS guidance related to: (1) conducting redeterminations for Medicaid enrollees who were continuously enrolled; (2) terminating, or extending where appropriate, temporary flexibilities; and (3) developing a consumer and provider communication strategy.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets up a structure with key roles for both federal and state policymakers. From establishing a state-based marketplace to a temporary Maryland supplemental reinsurance program, Maryland has taken steps to make health insurance more affordable. This case study describes the measures taken by the state to improve affordability and coverage, identifies unique program design features, and discusses their bipartisan appeal as experienced in Maryland. Maryland’s efforts can serve as a helpful framework for other similarly situated states seeking to address pressing health coverage affordability issues.
After a dynamic few weeks of negotiations, President Trump signed into law on December 27, 2020 a nearly 6,000-page legislative package (The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) that includes government appropriations through September 30, 2021; COVID-19 relief funding and targeted policy changes, a subset of which impact health programs; extensions of expiring health programs; a ban on surprise billing; and an amalgam of odds-and-ends health policy provisions. This analysis includes a summary of those health care provisions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted longstanding health inequities which have resulted in an increased risk of sickness and death for people of color. The crisis has also propelled a nationwide focus on understanding and addressing health inequities. This issue brief explores impediments and accelerants to advancing health equity as states are increasingly being called upon to drive change.
This issue brief is designed as a resource for states looking to adopt a measure to assess social risk factor screening rates. It is the result of a series of convenings that the authors facilitated with three states—Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island—which helped them consider, discuss, and share perspectives related to the development of their own social risk factor screening process measures. The issue brief looks at the progress these states and North Carolina have made in developing their own social risk factor screening measures and highlights considerations for other states either planning to adopt an existing or develop a new screening measure.
The past two years have seen a sharp increase in state Medicaid program interest in how social determinants of health (SDOH) influence Medicaid enrollee health status and spending. This brief provides an introduction to the first step most states are taking in response through their Medicaid managed care programs—screening members for social risk factors (SRFs). It explains why Medicaid managed care members should be screened for SRFs, identifies screening design decisions, identifies common SRFs, and reviews options for screening tool selection.
This issue brief examines examples from two state Medicaid programs and one nonprofit quality measurement and reporting organization of the data sources they use to identify patients’ social risk factors when risk-adjusting payments or quality measure performance. Within the brief, we will examine both their approaches to risk adjustment based on social risk factors and how each entity filled their gaps in data on social risk factors. To inform this issue brief, the author reviewed publicly available documentation and articles on the three profiled examples of risk adjustment based on social risk factors.
Strategies for Supporting and Strengthening Medicaid Information Technology During the COVID-19 Crisis
As states face the extraordinary challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, information technology (IT) is an essential tool to support access to health coverage and the safe and effective evaluation, testing, and treatment of patients nationwide. Under the current statutory and regulatory framework, state Medicaid agencies are authorized to receive federal funding for Medicaid IT and associated activities, and much of it at an enhanced federal matching level. This issue brief outlines potential IT investments in responding to COVID-19 and strategies for states to support these investments, as well as secure current and future IT investments that enable Medicaid program operations. The issue brief also highlights the Medicaid authorities and the provisions that may allow states more expeditious access and flexible use of these funds.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis continues, state Medicaid and Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies are rapidly pursuing multiple financing strategies to support their responses. CHIP Health Services Initiatives (HSIs) can provide additional financial support to states and local communities serving low-income children. This issue brief provides an overview of CHIP HSIs and identifies ways that states can leverage them as part of their targeted response to the COVID-19 pandemic.