Behavioral Health

New Report Supports State Medicaid Programs to Advance Health Justice

Rates of illness and death due to the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionally impacted Americans who are Black, African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian, and other people of color as well as people with disabilities and those subsisting on poverty-level income. In response to this, AcademyHealth, in partnership with the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC), a Massachusetts-based cross-disability advocacy and action research organization, released a new report: Advancing Health Justice Using Medicaid Data: Key Lessons from Minnesota for the Nation. This report provides information on the importance of investing in data analysis to advance health justice in Medicaid populations. It further highlights the importance of partnering with communities most impacted by injustices that cause inequities in health outcomes.

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CMS Releases New Tools

Two new tools have been released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help states and territories plan to transition back to regular operations after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends.

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Drivers and Barriers to Adoption of Flexible Medicare Advantage Supplemental Benefits

This week’s In Focus highlights a recent HMA publication examining the drivers and barriers to Medicare Advantage plan adoption of newly available supplemental benefits intended to address unmet health and social needs. Unlike Traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, which provide coverage for 40 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, may offer enrollees supplemental benefits which are not covered by the Medicare program. Until recently, the Medicare program has required that supplemental benefits be limited to those that are medical in nature. However, in recent years, Congress and CMS —through four different legislative and regulatory authorities — granted new flexibilities for Medicare Advantage plans to offer non-medical benefits that address social needs. Medicare Advantage plans may also now tailor supplemental benefits and make them available only to certain subpopulations based on chronic disease or health status.

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North Carolina Releases RFA for Behavioral Health, Intellectual/ Developmental Disability Tailored Plans

This week, our In Focus section reviews the statewide North Carolina request for applications (RFA) for Behavioral Health and Intellectual/Developmental Disability (BH IDD) Tailored Plans released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on November 13, 2020. BH IDD Tailored Plans are part of the statewide effort to transition to Medicaid managed care and are one of the four types of integrated Medicaid managed care plans the state will contract with to serve Medicaid and NC Health Choice beneficiaries. The other three are Standard Plans, the Statewide Specialized Foster Care Plan, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Option.

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HMA Colleagues Make Case for Two-Generation Approach

Focused on addressing inequities and building more sustainable and vital futures for low-income families in Washington, D.C., and the state of Maryland, colleagues from Health Management Associates (HMA) authored two case studies under the auspices of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, a hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.

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A Short-Term Path to Avoid ACA Uncertainty as the Pandemic Continues

In this week’s In Focus section, Health Management Associates (HMA) Managing Director MMS Matt Powers, Senior Consultant Kaitlyn Feiock, and Regional Vice President Kathleen Nolan look at the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). On November 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments for California v. Texas, challenging the constitutionality and severability of the ACA.  This challenge became possible after the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which zeroed out the individual mandate penalty for not purchasing health insurance.  While most experts agree that an entire invalidation of the ACA is the least likely outcome based on the oral arguments, some uncertainty remains and more than $100 billion federal funds are at risk. The ACA standardized insurance rules offset premium costs for many individual market consumers and provided authority and funding for Medicaid Expansions in the overwhelming majority of states. The ACA also included other provisions that may be at risk but are not the subject of this note, such as the creation of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office, as well as demonstration authority that has led to the creation of numerous coverage models.  As states, Congress, and the federal executive branch face the possibility that the ACA may not survive in its present form, what mitigation strategies are available at the state and federal levels to stabilize uncertainties and protect against abrupt coverage changes?

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Highlights from Kaiser/HMA 50-State Medicaid Director Survey

This week, our In Focus section shares highlights and key takeaways from the 20th annual Medicaid Budget Survey conducted by The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and Health Management Associates (HMA). Survey results were released on October 14, 2020, in two new reports: State Medicaid Programs Respond to Meet COVID-19 Challenges: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 and Medicaid Enrollment & Spending Growth: FY 2020 & 2021. The reports were prepared by Kathleen Giff­ordAimee Lashbrook, and Sarah Barth from HMA and by Elizabeth Hinton, Robin Rudowitz, Madeline Guth, and Lina Stolyar from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

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HMA to lead Integrated Care Technical Assistance Program in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia’s Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) has engaged Health Management Associates (HMA) to spearhead a multi-year training and coaching effort across the District. The five-year project will support Medicaid providers’ efforts to deliver whole person care by integrating physical and behavioral health in order to better manage the complex needs of Medicaid beneficiaries.

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HMA Announces Cancellation of 2020 Annual Conference

Health Management Associates has made the decision to cancel its October 2020 conference on Trends in Publicly Sponsored Healthcare, given continuing developments concerning COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of attendees, speakers, and staff. Full refunds will be made to registered attendees and sponsors.

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Early Bird Registration Expires July 29 for HMA Conference, October 26-27 in Chicago

Be sure to register soon for HMA’s conference on What’s Next for Medicaid, Medicare, and Publicly Sponsored Healthcare: How Payers, Providers, and States Are Navigating a Future of Opportunity and Uncertainty, October 26-27, at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. The Early Bird registration rate of $1595 per person expires on July 29.  After that, the rate is $1795.

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