Health Policy News – March 2021

This month, we provide updates on topics covered in recent editions, including an update on the latest health policy developments relative to the COVID-19 public health emergency, digital healthcare access barriers and inequities that have come to light during the pandemic, and another spotlight on a state prescription drug cost control approach.

American Rescue Plan has Broad Impact on Health Policy

The American Rescue Plan Act (the Act) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The Act includes additional funding for the CARES Act Provider Relief fund, as well as funding to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, testing, contact tracing, and other mitigation activities. With the aim of expanding access to comprehensive health insurance during the pandemic and resulting economic downturn, the Act also makes temporary but significant changes to the Marketplace Premium Tax Credits, provides subsidies for COBRA coverage, and incentivizes states to newly adopt Medicaid expansion. Our article examines these changes, as well as what is likely to come as we look toward the future. It also provides an overview of recent guidance regarding commercial insurance coverage of COVID-19 tests and newly approved Section 1135 Waivers. For more information about these developments, click here.

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Digital Health Literacy Inequities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitization of healthcare services, as safety precautions prompted providers to embrace the transition of care delivery from in-person to  virtual. The implementation of digital healthcare services has been a positive development, as it has expanded access to care by removing barriers that prevent people from seeking treatment. However, the digitization of healthcare has exposed another underlying health inequity: the gaps in digital health literacy. To read more about the impact that health literacy disparities have had on telehealth utilization and vaccine registration, as well as ways that providers and governments can improve and remove barriers to health services, click here.

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California Eyes Generic Drugs Production to Curb Prescription Drug Costs 

California has long been an innovator in prescription drug cost control efforts. Since 2017, comprehensive prescription drug cost reform legislation has led the state through public reporting on drug costs and utilization—to the point where they are now undergoing operational feasibility reviews for Cal RX, a state sponsored prescription drug label. To read more about the upcoming key milestones for Cal RX, and the ways public drug utilization and cost data is being used to inform this program, click here.

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