Budget Blog

May 28, 2020 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 05-28-2020 12:00 AM


HHS Announces $4.9 Billion to Nursing Facilities from Provider Relief Funds

On May 22, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it began distributing nearly $4.9 billion to skilled nursing facilities to help them combat the pandemic. This funding, which supplements previously announced Provider Relief Funds, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. All certified skilled nursing facilities with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution. The CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Acttogether provide $175 billion in relief funds to health care providers. A state-by-state breakdown of payments to skilled nursing facilities can be found here. HHS also announced $500 million in payments from the Provider Relief Fund to the Indian Health Service and tribal hospitals, clinics, and urban healthcenters to support the tribal response to COVID-19.

Health Management Associates Updates Medicaid and Enrollment Estimates 

This updated analysis by Health Management Associates projects the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health insurance coverage and cost by state through 2022. The analysis forecasts Medicaid enrollment could increase by 5 to 18 million by the end of the year and costs could grow by at least $11 billion in 2020. Depending on the speed of the economic recovery, Medicaid enrollment by the end of 2022 could be 1 to 5 million higher than year-end 2019. Total state and federal costs to cover the additional Medicaid population could range from $18 billion to $127 billion between 2020 and 2022.

CMS Releases Information on Payments for Care in Alternative Care Sites 

A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released fact sheet provides state and local governments developing alternate care sites with information on how to seek payments through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for acute inpatient and outpatient care furnished at the site. The term alternate care site (ACS) is a broad term for any building or structure that is temporarily converted or newly erected for healthcare use. The Federal Healthcare Resiliency Task Force issued a toolkit to help state and local governments develop alternate care sites. 

CDC Releases Interim Guidance on Contact Tracing Plans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released interim guidance for health departments on developing a COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing plan. The guidance covers topics including scaling up staffing roles, when to initiate case investigation and contact tracing, and dealing with outbreaks in settings including congregate settings, correctional facilities and workplaces. 

HHS Office of Inspector General Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Oversight 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a strategic plan for oversight with HHS leading the federal public healthand medical response during public health emergencies. The HHS OIG is coordinating key oversight with the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee; federal, state, local, and tribal entities; and the Government Accountability Office, among others, to ensure adequate oversight, avoid duplication, and share insights.

Healthcare Utilization During the Coronavirus Pandemic 

This issue brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation provides an early look at how health careutilization is changing during the coronavirus pandemic. There has been an abrupt and sizable decrease in healthcare utilization in the early months of the pandemic with the exception of telehealth. Some of the most recently available data suggest some healthcare utilization began picking back up in late April or early May. On net, it is not yet clear how these upward and downward cost pressures will balance out in 2020 and 2021. In a recent survey of states’ Medicaid programs by the Kaiser Family Foundation, some states with managed care noted that without adjustments in capitation rates, reductions in utilization will not reduce overall costs while increases in enrollment will continue to drive expenditures up. Without available claims data to review, many states could not anticipate how lower costs attributable to lower utilization would compare to costs related to increased enrollment and new/unanticipated expenditures related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.