Budget Blog

July 15, 2021 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 07-15-2021 02:38 PM


CMS Releases February 2021 Medicaid and CHIP Data and Enrollment Trends and June Special Enrollment Marketplace Report

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the February 2021 enrollment trends snapshot report showing enrollment trends from March 2020 to February 2021. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment increased by 10.1 million or 14.2 percent, with Medicaid enrollment increasing by 9.9 million or 15.5 percent and CHIP enrollment growing by 128,419 or 1.9 percent. The snapshot also captures information on the trend in the number of Medicaid and CHIP applications received by states. The number of Medicaid and CHIP applications submitted directly to states was about 10 percent lower in February 2021 compared to January 2021. Additionally, CMS released the June special enrollment report showing that since February 15, 2021, 1.5 million Americans have signed up on HealthCare.gov with an additional 600,000 enrolling in coverage through the 15 state-based Marketplaces.


CMS Releases Guidance on Medicaid Coverage of Certain Medical Transportation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an informational bulletin regarding Medicaid coverage of certain medical transportation under Section 209 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. This section codifies in law the longstanding CMS interpretation that generally requires states to assure necessary transportation for beneficiaries to and from covered services. Section 209 also added a new provision specifying non-emergency medical transportation provider and driver requirements.


Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Home-and Community-Based Services Bill

Democratic lawmakers in the Senate introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act (S. 2210) to expand access to home-and community-based services (HCBS) under Medicaid. A section-by-section summary is available here. The legislation seeks to implement the $400 billion investment in Medicaid HCBS proposed in the President’s fiscal 2022 budget.  States would be eligible for a permanent 10 percentage point increase in the federal Medicaid match for delivering HCBS as well as enhanced funding for administrative activities associated with improvement efforts if they comply with certain requirements. 


President Issues Executive Order Promoting Competition Including in Health Care

The President issued an executive order on promoting competition in the economy. Noting challenges including depressed wages, higher prices, and lack of innovation, the order aims to establish a whole-of-government effort to promote competition through 72 initiatives across multiple federal agencies. Actions outlined in the order address prescription drug prices, labor markets, hospital mergers, agriculture, and internet service. Specifically, the order directs the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and Tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, pursuant to the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs and to issue a comprehensive plan within 45 days to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging. A fact sheet on the order can be found here.


HHS Provides $398 Million to Small Rural Hospitals for COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided $398 million in funding for the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to 1,540 small rural hospitals for COVID-19 testing and mitigation with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Hospitals will use the funds to maintain or increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing for rural residents, and tailor mitigation efforts to reflect the needs of local communities. 


CMS Announces State Planning Grants for Mobile Crisis Intervention Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) $15 million funding opportunity for community-based mobile crisis intervention services. Funding is available to state Medicaid agencies for planning grants to support developing these programs. Letters of intent are due July 23, 2021, with final applications due August 13, 2021. The period of performance for this grant will be September 30, 2021, through September 29, 2022.


HHS Updates Provider Relief Fund FAQs 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the Provider Relief Fund. Questions added in July are highlighted in the release and relate to calculating eligible expenses/lost revenue and requesting extensions.


CMS Releases Funding Opportunity for Select States for Substance Use Disorder

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a notice of funding opportunity open to 15 states receiving planning grants to increase substance use provider capacity. Funding is provided through the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) Act. A letter of intent is due by August 5 and applications are due by August 20.


House Committee Leaders Reach Agreement on Medicaid Funding for Territories

The Chair and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a bipartisan agreement to provide long-term Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories. The bipartisan agreement will extend increased funding and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) levels for five years for Puerto Rico and eight years for the U.S. territories at current FMAP levels (76 percent for Puerto Rico and 83 percent for Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa).