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CMS Introduces New Medicare Direct Contracting Model Opportunity

This week, our In Focus section looks at a new Medicare model, Direct Contracting, introduced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center. The new model will build on and continue testing potential reforms to the Medicare program encompassed by accountable care organizations (ACOs), Medicare Advantage (MA), and private sector risk-sharing arrangements. The payment model options may appeal to a broad range of physician and provider groups and other organizations because they are expected to introduce flexibility in health care delivery, support a focus on beneficiaries with complex, chronic conditions, and encourage participation from organizations that have not typically participated in traditional fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare or CMS Innovation Center models. However, there will be substantial financial risk—and reward—for participants based on a new, complex methodology, so organizations interested in this new model should carefully consider the possible outcomes from participating in Direct Contracting versus other options.  CMS has announced that 51 organizations will participate in the model’s trial Implementation Period, which runs from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.  The agency has stated that it expects to announce additional Direct Contracting pathways in the future and that the next round of applications for participation in the second performance year will open in early 2021.

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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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Evidence-Based Programs Paper Authored by HMA Colleagues

Health Management Associates (HMA), in contract with The National Council on Aging (NCOA), and with support from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), recently provided research and strategy services to support the goal to increase the adoption of evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs, known as evidence-based programs (EBPs) by Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance markets.

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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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Annual Medicaid Director Budget Survey Highlights State Responses to COVID-19 Challenges

With the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Medicaid programs at the forefront, results from the 20th annual 50-state Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 were released October 14 along with an issue brief, Medicaid Enrollment & Spending Growth: FY 2019 & 2020, which examines growth and changes in spending and enrollment. The annual report, co-authored by Health Management Associates (HMA) colleagues and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in collaboration with the National Association of Medicaid Directors, focuses primarily on survey findings related to planned fiscal year 2021 Medicaid policy changes, especially those related to state COVID-19 responses.

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HMA Summary of UnitedHealth Group’s ‘The Path Forward’

This week, our In Focus section reviews UnitedHealth Group’s The Path Forward to a Next-Generation Health System, an outline of policy recommendations to achieve a high-quality, affordable health care system. The paper focuses on four goals: 1) achieve universal coverage; 2) improve health care affordability; 3) enhance the health care experience; and 4) drive better health outcomes. UnitedHealth Group (United) advocates for expanding Medicaid in the remaining states, passively enrolling individuals into Medicaid and the Exchanges, implementing a Medicaid Buy-In program, transitioning Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS) programs to managed care, strengthening Medicare Advantage, eliminating surprise billing, expanding access to telehealth, in addition to other policies.

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Ohio Releases Medicaid Managed Care RFA

This week, our In Focus section reviews the Ohio Medicaid Managed Care request for applications (RFA) released by the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) on September 30, 2020. The RFA follows the release of two requests for information (RFIs) in June 2019 and February 2020, soliciting feedback from individuals, providers, and interested bidders to help design a new Medicaid managed care program. Ohio will award contracts, worth over $11 billion annually, to no more than five managed care organizations (MCOs) in each of the state’s three regions (Central/Southeast Region, Northeast Region, and West Region), with implementation beginning January 5, 2022. The procurement will not include the MyCare Ohio dual demonstration.

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