Health Policy News – November 2020

This month, two major events at the federal level took place that will have lasting impacts on health policy. First, of course, was the election. Then, just a week later, the Supreme Court heard argument of California v. Texas. While these events will undoubtedly not be news to our readers, in this edition of Health Policy News we take this opportunity to examine their potential impact on health policy going forward.

Of course, these were not the only health policy-related developments  in November. With the COVID-19 pandemic surging in nearly every state, this edition’s second article summarizes the continued activity at the federal level relative to COVID-19 related coverage and other policy developments. Our third article outlines updates on two other significant regulatory updates from the federal level, as well as news of two new waivers granted to the state of Georgia.

We also provide information about a new funding opportunity from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – cycle II of the State Flexibility to Stabilize the Market Grant Program.

To conclude, we want to draw your attention to our coverage of two events that occurred over the past few weeks in case you missed them. The first of these is the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) virtual conference—which you can read PCG’s insights on below.  Additionally, Health Policy News hosted our annual fall webinar on October 29th; this year, we focused on how states stepped forward into leadership roles in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over the last decade. In case you were unable to attend the webinar, click here to view the presentation slide deck, as well as a recording of the discussion.

Our team wishes you all a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving! We look forward to reconnecting in December as we share our annual retrospective on the last year in health policy and look forward to 2021.

Recent Key Developments are Major Turning Points in Health Policy

Earlier this month, all eyes were on two major events in the federal health policy world: the outcome of the election and the Supreme Court’s arguments for the California v. Texas case. Both are certain to have major implications on health policy going forward.

In the wake of the election, we now have a better sense of what 2021 is likely to hold for health policy. While the president-elect’s policy priorities are central to understanding what is likely to come, the new administration’s actions will also be shaped by the actions of the outgoing administration over the next several weeks, the challenges and needs within the country when he takes office, and the makeup of the Senate.

Just one week after the election was the much-awaited argument of California v. Texas before the Supreme Court. While a decision is not expected for months, many are already making predictions on the verdict based on how the questioning proceeded (while others remain skeptical, with memories of the unexpected decision in NFIB v. Sebelius still top of mind).

Click here to read more about the likely health policy priorities of the Biden administration, as well as the potential outcomes of the Supreme Court decision.

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Continued Federal Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the country in the throes of yet another surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, states and federal agencies continue to respond to its impacts. As our team has since the pandemic began, this post summarizes the latest updates from the federal pandemic response, including new guidance and regulations; new resources for states, providers and insurers; and new state waivers. Significantly, the updates also include Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar’s decision to renew the declaration of a federal public health emergency. Click here to read about the latest policy developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Regulatory Roundup

Over the past few weeks, two anticipated final rules were released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and accompanying agencies. The first was the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Managed Care final rule and the second was the Transparency in Coverage rule applicable to commercial insurance carriers. Georgia also received an interesting combination of Section 1115 and Section 1332 State Relief and Empowerment waiver approvals from CMS that reflect many of the administrative and benefit eligibility flexibilities afforded in recent guidance from the Trump Administration. This article summarizes the provisions from these final rules and waiver approval announcements that are most applicable to states and policymakers. To read more about these recent regulatory releases, click here.

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New State Funding Opportunity Released

Earlier this month, CMS announced a second cycle of the State Flexibility to Stabilize the Market Grant Program. A follow-up to grants initially provided in 2018, this round of funding seeks to “enhance and support the role of states” in implementation and regulation relative to guaranteed issue and renewability provisions and Essential Health Benefits (EHBs). Through these grants, CMS aims to support innovation as well as compliance with federal requirements.

Click here to learn more about the funding available, eligible activities, and considerations for states, as well as to access the link to the funding opportunity notice.

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NAMD Conference Offers Reflection on 2020, and Contemplation of Health Policy in 2021

Members of PCG’s Health team attended the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) virtual conference from November 9th to November 11th.  The event’s breakout sessions showcased Medicaid Directors sharing various strategies for how they are navigating the COVID-19 public health emergency, re-envisioning behavioral health, and advancing health equity. We also had a chance to hear from several Medicaid members throughout the event, giving us a chance to better understand the customer experience. To read more about highlights from the conference, including insights from the keynote speakers, click here.

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