Budget Blog

September 3, 2020 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 09-03-2020 12:00 AM


Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission Letter About Public Health Emergency

The Medicaid Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting the Secretary give state Medicaid programs sufficient advance notice as to when the public health emergency will end and early and clear guidance for states well in advance of actions that would terminate Medicaid flexibilities. The letter describes how the Commission expects the end of the public health emergency to affect Medicaid operations as well as the time states will need to develop state plan amendments that extend beyond the public health emergency. The Commission also notes that economic effects of the pandemic leading to declining state revenues and increasing enrollment will likely cause continued challenges for state Medicaid programs even after the official public health emergency ends.


HHS Announces Provider Relief Fund Application for Assisted Living Facilities

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced assisted living facilities may now apply for funding under the Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distribution allocation. This funding is through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Assisted living facilities, similar to all providers applying for the current Phase 2 General Distribution funding, will have until September 13, 2020 to begin their application by entering their Tax Identification Number for validation. Eligible assisted living facilities will receive 2 percent of their annual revenue from patient care.


States’ Use of Cost-Growth Benchmark Programs in Health Care

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) prepared a chart providing a snapshot of programs on states’ use of cost-growth benchmark programs in health care. A cost-growth benchmark program is a cost-containment strategy that limits how much a state’s health care spending can grow each year. Massachusetts established the first program in 2012 and other states are now using the strategy to contain costs. In addition to Massachusetts, the other states profiled are Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Washington.


SAMHSA Awards Nearly $1.5 Billion to States and Tribes to Combat Opioids

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the distribution of first-year funds for its two-year State Opioid Response (SOR) and Tribal Opioid Response (TOR) grant programs. The two programs will ultimately award nearly $3 billion over two years to help states and tribes provide community-level resources for people in need of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.


State Actions on Long-term Care and Supports

This issue brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation identifies state actions for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) in response to COVID-19 and implications for future consideration. Over half of states have expanded eligibility criteria for seniors and people with disabilities, while a few states have increased the total number of home and community-based services waiver enrollees served. Nearly all states have streamlined enrollment processes, and over one-third of states have eased premium and/or cost-sharing requirements for seniors and people with disabilities. Just over half of states are increasing institutional LTSS payment rates and among these 26 states, 24 have increased rates for nursing homes and five states are doing so for intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities or other institutional settings.