Expert Perspectives

Jan 20, 2021 

Ensuring Equity: State Strategies for Monitoring COVID-19 Vaccination Rates by Race and Other Priority Populations

The rollout of vaccines designed to end the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has begun in earnest across the United States. Currently, each state is responsible for determining how to allocate, distribute, track, and report its vaccine allotment from the federal government, although the federal government is expected to take on a larger role under a new Biden administration. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have been disproportionately impacted by both higher risks of infection and poorer health outcomes, and many are concerned that an inequitable or inefficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine may further widen health inequities among these populations. One way to help ensure the equitable administration of COVID-19 vaccine is to track vaccine administration disaggregated for key subpopulations, such as gender, race and ethnicity, and geography (e.g., urban vs. rural). This expert perspective reviews the data states are currently publicly reporting related to vaccine administration and provides an interactive map that explores the extent to which all 50 states are reporting vaccine administration data breakdowns by age, gender, race, ethnicity, provider type, and level of geography. The expert perspective also discusses what current data sources states are using to provide this information and provides an overview of options states can consider to collect information about the administration of COVID-19 vaccine in populations via survey data.

Jan 19, 2021 

2022 Notice of Benefit & Payment Parameters: Implications for States

On November 25, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Treasury released the proposed 2022 “Notice of Benefit & Payment Parameters” (NBPP), the annual rule governing core provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the operation of the marketplaces, standards for insurers, and the risk adjustment program. This expert perspective focuses on several provisions that have implications for state oversight of insurance markets and the state-based marketplaces. Comments on the proposed rule are due by December 30, 2020.

Jan 12, 2021 

The No Surprises Act: Implications for States

In the waning days of 2020, Congress enacted a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and government funding bill (H.R. 133). Included in the measure is the “No Surprises Act”, which contains new protections for consumers from surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers. The new law establishes, for the first time, comprehensive protections in the states without their own balance billing laws and for the nearly 135 million people in self-insured plans beyond the reach of state regulators. This expert perspective summarizes provisions that have particular implications for state regulators.

Jan 7, 2021 

The State of Play: Public Option at the Federal and State Level and What to Expect in 2021

Faced with significant premium fluctuation and the risk of “bare counties”, many policy stakeholders have turned to the public option as a potential tool to promote stability and affordability in the individual insurance market. Since 2017, nearly a dozen states have considered or passed legislation to study or implement a state-based public option program. Additionally, the 2020 election and transition to a new federal administration marks a pivotal point for state policymakers with interest in fostering new coverage options. An incoming Biden Administration’s support for state innovation will create new state-based coverage opportunities, even as major federal legislation is unlikely under a divided Congress. This expert perspective provides a brief overview of selected states efforts to implement a public option and highlights what to expect in a federal policy environment.

Jan 4, 2021 

Advancing Health Equity in Oregon: Building a Foundation

As health inequities continue to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is concerted energy to address this topic across states. Oregon has had a longstanding focus on health equity and employed two foundational strategies that can serve as examples for other states seeking to further their health equity efforts. Oregon first developed a common language and defined what “health equity” meant in the state. The state also engaged community partners to ensure that the community voice was apparent in policy decisions on the state level. When combined, these strategies have helped Oregon develop a foundation to build and implement subsequent health equity efforts in the state.