May 5, 2020 COVID-19

State Spotlight: May 6, 2020

United States of Care is supporting policy makers and public servants across the country as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Our support includes sharing innovative approaches communities and states are taking to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the resulting economic impacts. Below is a snapshot of the most interesting and innovative action we saw in states over the last week from the public and private sectors. These policies are focused in four priority areas:

  • Protect people from the virus and give them the information they need to be safe.
  • Build a reliable health care system that is adequately resourced to support front-line workers and available to care for people when they need it – both now and after the pandemic.
  • Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 adn other health care needs they face.
  • Build an equitable COVID-19 response and health care system which cares for all, especially the most vulnerable.

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Protect people from the virus and give them the information they need to be safe.

State Response Plans

  • States including Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and West Virginia have published phased-in approaches to re-opening businesses and sectors of the economy that had been closed during the crisis. Massachusetts Governor Baker announced the formation of the Reopening Advisory Board, bringing public health officials together with leaders from the business community and municipal government from across the Commonwealth.

Testing

  • Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced OptumServe Health Services, powered by Logistics Health, Inc., will open sites across Indiana to begin large-scale testing of Hoosiers.
  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced an expanded testing strategy and aggressive new actions to address outbreaks of COVID-19 at poultry processing plants and nursing homes.
  • In Kansas, Walmart has launched mobile COVID-19 testing sites for counties that don’t have access to testing. Mobile units will travel to the counties of Reno, Butler, Scott, Rooks and Saline on a rotating basis each week to test those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

  • Some states are using emergency infrastructure by bringing in the National Guard for contact tracing work, this includes Washington, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Iowa.
  • In Indiana, the state is partnering with Maximus to centralize contact tracing and investigations for Hoosiers who test positive for COVID-19.

Build a reliable health care system that is adequately resourced to support front-line workers and available to care for people when they need it – both now and after the pandemic.

  • Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, issued executive order 20-29 intended to promote better coordination of health care coverage. Specifically, the order: bars insurers from making changes to their formularies, unless such changes benefit patients; requires insurers to relax the provider referral process to allow for more time and leniency, while suspending requirements for telehealth; and requires insurers to cover behavioral health care services without referrals or other benefit review approvals.
  • The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has launched BeWellIndiana.org that will provide Hoosiers with free mental health resources that have been vetted by experts. The site is designed to help with the increase in anxiety, depression and other mental health issues caused by the pandemic, including both first-time issues as well as pre-existing mental health concerns.

Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 adn other health care needs they face.

  • Michigan Governor Whitmer announced the “Futures for Frontliners” program to provide a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate to essential workers who don’t have a college degree. This includes workers like the ones staffing our hospitals and nursing homes, stocking the shelves at grocery stores, providing child care to critical infrastructure workers, manufacturing PPE, protecting public safety, picking up trash, or delivering supplies.
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills announced that the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission (CEFC) and the Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) will convene off cycle to examine the economic ramifications of COVID-19 on the state’s revenues. The committees will meet in July 2020 and August 2020, in advance of and in addition to the statutory dates currently set for November 2020 and December 2020, respectively. The CEFC and RFC are responsible for projecting revenues that the Administration and Legislature then use to determine the state’s budget.

Build an equitable COVID-19 response and health care system which cares for all, especially the most vulnerable.

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will receive nearly $54 million in federal funds to support older Texans and individuals with disabilities. (Source)
  • Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-64, which reaffirms the state’s commitment to equitable access to health care, and requires health care facilities to develop protocols that ensure non-discrimination in the event demands for critical health care resources exceed availability.
  • Massachusetts is filing two waiver requests with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will give the state and its Medicaid program, MassHealth, more flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including allowing MassHealth to waive the requirement that certain applicants and members spend down to qualify for coverage in cases of financial hardship.