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HMA Insights: Your source for healthcare news, ideas and analysis.

HMA Insights – including our new podcast – puts the vast depth of HMA’s expertise at your fingertips, helping you stay informed about the latest healthcare trends and topics. Below, you can easily search based on your topic of interest to find useful information from our podcast, blogs, webinars, case studies, reports and more.

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Blog

Lee Fleisher of CMS to keynote HMA national quality conference

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Join us on Monday, March 6, 2023, at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, for “Healthcare Quality Conference: A Deep Dive on What’s Next for Providers, Payers, and Policymakers,” where Lee Fleisher, MD, chief medical officer and director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, will deliver the keynote titled A Vision for Healthcare Quality: How Policy Can Drive Improved Outcomes.

HMA’s first annual quality conference will provide organizations the opportunity to “Focus on Quality to Improve Patients’ Lives.” Attendees will hear from industry leaders and policy makers about evolving health care quality initiatives and participate in substantive workshops where they will learn about and discuss solutions that are using quality frameworks to create a more equitable health system.

In addition to Fleisher, featured speakers will executives from ANCOR, CareOregon, Commonwealth Care Alliance, Council on Quality and Leadership, Intermountain Healthcare, NCQA, Reema Health, Kaiser Permanente, United Hospital Fund, and others.

Working sessions will provide expert-led discussions about how quality is driving federal and state policy, behavioral health integration, approaches to improving equity and measuring the social determinants of health, integration of disability support services, stronger Medicaid core measures, strategies for Medicare Star Ratings, value-based payments, and digital measures and measurement tools. Speakers will provide case studies and innovative approaches to ensuring quality efforts result in lasting improvements in health outcomes.

“What’s different about this conference is that participants will engage in working sessions that provide healthcare executives tools and models for directly impacting quality at their organizations,” said Carl Mercurio, Principal and Publisher, HMA Information Services. 

View the Full Agenda

Early Bird registration ends January 30. Visit the conference website for complete details or contact Carl Mercurio at 212-575-5929/[email protected].  Group rates and sponsorships are available.

Register Now
Blog

An HMA toolkit and webinar to advance health equity & access for rural dually eligible individuals

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In 2022, HMA convened stakeholder roundtables in three states – including New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee to identify the challenges facing dually eligible individuals living in rural areas and to propose solutions to these challenges. Informed by this process, HMA developed the Health Equity & Access for Rural Dually Eligible Individuals (HEARD) Toolkit.

The toolkit is structured around three domains used to organize eight solutions. For each solution, HMA provides a description of the rural access challenge, the proposed solution, and the proposed tool. Each tool is powered by some type of lever available to the federal and state government. We anticipate that policymakers will build upon this toolkit through continued dialogue with rural communities. The toolkit’s framework, goals, and actionable solutions are summarized in the figure below.

HEARD Toolkit framework domains

HMA Principal Ellen Breslin, Consultant Samantha Di Paola, and Senior Consultant Susan McGeehan authored the toolkit, with research contributions from HMA Principals Rebecca Kellenberg and Andrea Maresca.

The toolkit is available here.

On February 2, 2023, 1pm ET, HMA will host a webinar on the HEARD toolkit. During this webinar, HMA experts and panelists including Dr. Kevin Bennett (USC-SOM Columbia, SC CRPH), Dennis Heaphy (DPC), Pam Parker (SNP Alliance), and Tallie Tolen (New Mexico Medicaid) will summarize and discuss the toolkit’s actionable solutions for improving rural dually eligible individuals’ health and social outcomes.

Click here to register.

Webinar

Webinar replay: rural health equity for dually eligible individuals: improving access to services and integrated care programs

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This webinar was held on February 2, 2023. 

Dually eligible individuals covered under Medicare and Medicaid living in rural areas struggle to access the services, care coordination, and integrated care programs they need. To address these needs, HMA conducted multi-state roundtable discussions with diverse stakeholders to create The Health Equity & Access for Rural Dually Eligible Individuals (HEARD) Toolkit. During this webinar, our experts summarized and discussed the toolkit’s actionable solutions for improving health and social outcomes for rural dually eligible individuals.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand why the voices of rural dually eligible individuals must drive planning efforts to generate innovations and prioritize investments to advance independent living and recovery goals.
  • Learn how experiences shared from New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee can offer lessons.
  • Explore eight actionable solutions for improving health and social outcomes among rural dually eligible individuals as outlined in the HEARD toolkit.
  • Understand why community engagement and investment in rural capacity are essential to improving access to services and integrated care programs for rural dually eligible individuals.

Speakers

Arielle Mir, Vice President, Health Care, Arnold Ventures

HMA Team

Ellen Breslin, Principal
Samantha Di Paola, Consultant
Susan McGeehan, Senior Consultant

Expert Panelists

Dr. Kevin Bennett, Professor of Family Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Director of the Research Center for Transforming Health, and Director of the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Care
Dennis Heaphy, Health Justice Advocate and Researcher, Massachusetts Disability Policy Consortium, Co-Chair, One Care Implementation Council, a One Care member, and MACPAC Commissioner
Pamela J. Parker, Medicare-Medicaid Integration Consultant, SNP Alliance
Tallie Tolen, Long-Term Services and Supports Bureau Chief, Medicaid, New Mexico Human Services Department

Blog

HMA in Health Affairs Forefront: imminent VFC decisions are critical for RSV therapy access

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As respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a seasonal pathogen in young children is challenging the national health care system as part of an unprecedented “tripledemic” with COVID-19 and flu this winter, HMA authors weigh in on potential coverage pathways for new monoclonal antibody (mAb) preventive therapies for RSV and their implications for access. 

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program is a proven vehicle for ensuring comprehensive coverage of immunizations based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). An ACIP workgroup is actively discussing potential recommendations for immunization with RSV mAbs. 

In the recent Health Affairs Forefront article, “Coverage By Vaccines For Children Program Is Critical For RSV Therapy Access,” HMA authors Helen DuPlessis, MD, FAAP, Diana Rodin, and Matt Wimmer explore the implications of ACIP recommendations, Medicaid coverage pathways, and children’s access to the new therapies.

Blog

Congress sets date for Medicaid “unwinding”: what now?

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This week, our In Focus section reviews changes to Medicaid’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) unwinding. People enrolled in the Medicaid program have been continuously enrolled for almost three years, but that situation is about to change. In December 2022, Congress passed and the President signed into law a massive compromise bill to fund the government. It includes an important change to Medicaid’s continuous enrollment policy, which has been in effect since the early days of the COVID-19 PHE in March 2020.

Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) in March 2020. This legislation has allowed states to receive a 6.2 percentage point increase in their federal matching rate for Medicaid. As a condition for receiving the enhanced funding, states have been prohibited from disenrolling individuals who were otherwise determined ineligible for Medicaid. As a result, nearly 20 million more people are now enrolled in the Medicaid program.

The 2023 spending bill severs the link between the COVID-19 PHE declaration, the continuous enrollment requirement, and the higher federal match rate. The new law:

  • Ends the Medicaid continuous coverage policy on March 31, 2023, even if the PHE declaration remains in effect. States may begin issuing terminations of ineligible individuals as early as February 1, with an effective date of April 1.
  • Phases down the 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal matching rate rather than ending it abruptly at the end of the PHE as required under the FFCRA. Specifically, the increase will drop to 5 percentage points in April−June 2023, 2.5 percentage points in July−September 2023, and 1.5 percentage points in October−December 2023.
  • Does not end the PHE or other flexibilities linked to the PHE.

Congress also added new parameters and reporting requirements for states as they resume annual eligibility renewals with coverage cancellation for individuals who no longer qualify. These requirements are in addition to data the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) previously directed states to report. For example:

  • States must maintain up-to-date enrollee contact information for individuals who will undergo an eligibility redetermination.
  • States cannot disenroll individuals based only on returned mail.
  • Prior to disenrolling an individual, the state must make a “good faith effort” to contact the person using more than one communication mode.
  • States must submit to CMS “on a timely basis” a report explaining their eligibility redetermination activities.
  • States must submit data related to individuals whose eligibility information was transferred between Medicaid and the Marketplace, with some exceptions for states that have integrated Medicaid and Marketplace eligibility systems and those that use the Federally Facilitated Marketplace.

Beyond the “Delinking”

The new law includes other important eligibility-related policies that may affect state and stakeholder planning for what is often referred to as the “unwinding” of continuous enrollment. Notably, the state Medicaid and CHIP programs will now be required to provide 12 months of continuous coverage for children. A total of 24 states already have adopted the 12-month continuous eligibility option for all children enrolled in Medicaid. While the new requirement will not take effect until January 1, 2024, additional states could adopt this option as they resume normal eligibility operations.

In addition, the new law makes permanent the option for states to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months, up from 60 days. The one-year postpartum coverage option initially was approved in the American Rescue Plan but for a limited period of five years. Making the option permanent provides more certainty for states. Nearly two-thirds of states have already implemented or are planning to implement the 12-month postpartum coverage extension.

What Happens Next?

The definitive end date for the continuous enrollment policy sets in motion certain federal and state actions and the process for unwinding. On January 5, 2023, CMS published its first guidance to states on processes related to the new unwinding date. The agency is developing additional guidance and will use other communication tools to provide states with greater clarity on the new statutory reporting, matching rate, and federal agency expectations and oversight.

State plans: All states must submit unwinding plans to CMS by February 15; however, February 1 is the deadline for states that intend to begin renewals in February. These proposals must provide details regarding unwinding strategies, the timeline for starting enrollee renewals, and the pace of ongoing renewal processes. The specific end date for the continuous enrollment policy is driving more states to review and finalize their initiatives and engage with stakeholders.

Impact on health plans and providers: The unwinding process will create important decision points and considerations for Medicaid health plans and providers that have members and patients whom the unwinding process may affect in the next 12-18 months. The law’s requirements reinforce the imperative for states, Medicaid health plans, providers, and other partners to renew efforts to confirm enrollee contact information. The unwinding all will create new considerations for Medicaid health plans with respect to enrollee support, case mix, and rate setting issues.

State budgets and legislation: Many states will kick off their legislative sessions this month. The unwinding process—especially the phase-out of higher federal funding—has important implications for state budgets. State legislatures also may address the new continuous eligibility requirements for children and the permanent option for 12 months of postpartum coverage. As a result, Medicaid will likely remain a top priority during upcoming legislative sessions.

Federal oversight and enforcement: The law’s enhanced reporting provision is intended to provide safeguards to ensure eligible individuals remain enrolled in Medicaid. The reporting also focuses on data related to identifying and directing individuals likely to be eligible for the Marketplace program. Although CMS must publicly report these data, the agency has offered no specific timeline for posting the information. Notably CMS has oversight tools and may impose financial penalties on states that are noncompliant with the unwinding requirements.

Forthcoming federal guidance will confirm the parameters for state unwinding actions, CMS’s plans for oversight of state work, and how these efforts affect current Medicaid enrollees. Medicaid partners should closely monitor state level actions, including announcement of state unwinding plans and opportunities for collaboration. Earlier blogs describe the strategies and actions HMA is working with states and partners to undertake as they prepare for this significant change in Medicaid eligibility policies.

Please contact HMA experts Beth KidderJane LongoMichael Cohen, and Andrea Maresca with questions and for more information.

Blog

The Health Equity & Access for Rural Dually Eligible Individuals Toolkit: Raising Rural Voices

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Download the Toolkit

A public health crisis is growing more acute in rural America, disproportionately impacting individuals with both Medicaid and Medicare (the “dually eligible”). Dually eligible individuals residing in rural areas represent about 5 percent of all rural residents. They reside at the intersection of a public health crisis and a fragmented Medicaid and Medicare care delivery system. As HMA wrote in Health Affairs, this small population is at risk of falling through the cracks of this crisis and suffering a steep rural mortality penalty.

With support from Arnold Ventures, HMA prepared “The Health Equity & Access for Rural Dually Eligible Individuals (HEARD) Toolkit: Raising Rural Voices from New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee to Create Action. The toolkit contains eight actionable solutions for federal and state policymakers to use and tailor to states’ needs. Ellen Breslin, Samantha Di Paola, and Susan McGeehan authored the toolkit, with research contributions from Rebecca Kellenberg and Andrea Maresca. The toolkit is available here.