Oregon state officials have requested a Medicaid waiver to delay all income verifications until after the state of emergency in response to COVID-19 is lifted, according to The Lund Report. Legislators are also considering options that would enact a grace period for non-payment of insurance premiums that lasts for the duration of the emergency declaration and put an “any willing provider” provision in place to eliminate out-of-network status for patients.
Alaska has enacted a telehealth bill that requires healthcare insurers offering fully-insured plans in the group and individual markets to cover telehealth services and stipulated that an insurer may not require an initial in-person visit before paying for covered services, reports State of Reform. The threat of COVID-19 prompted lawmakers to amend the legislation to make it effective immediately upon passage.
At least three states are reopening their health insurance exchanges amid the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to boost coverage and expand treatment for the uninsured, reports Roll Call. Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington state all announced special enrollment periods for uninsured individuals this week as the outbreak worsens and governors declare emergencies. Twelve states and the District of Columbia operate their own health insurance exchanges, which give local leaders the authority to reopen enrollment on their own in the face of an emergency like the coronavirus.
VCU Health is halting seizure of patients’ wages and removing thousands of liens against patients’ homes, some dating to the 1990s, according to Kaiser Health News. The moves follow an investigation last year by Kaiser Health News that found VCU Health and Virginia’s other major teaching-hospital system, UVA Health, pursued tens of thousands of patients over the years for overdue bills, sending many into bankruptcy. Liens often reached thousands of dollars and Virginia allows creditors to garnish up to 25 percent of a patient’s earnings.
California is joining several states in scrutinizing alternative health plans, programs that provide limited coverage and are not required to offer many of the protections provided by Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plans, according to the New York Times. State officials ordered a major Christian group to stop offering the arrangement, which pools members’ contributions to cover their medical expenses, because they are not required to meet standards for traditional insurance plans.
Michigan’s proposed budget contains $5 million in funding to create a five-employee office to transform how the state pays for healthcare through Medicaid, according to Modern Healthcare. The ultimate goal of the Medicaid transformation office in the Department of Health and Human Services is to come up with a variety of new or enhanced "value-based" reimbursement systems for health plans, hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and home and community-based providers. The office would evaluate best practices in other states, develop programs and offer recommendations.
Arizona’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that hospitals accepting payment from the state’s Medicaid program cannot try to collect additional payment by going after money owed to the patient, reports the Arizona Capitol Times. Specifically, the justices voided sections of state law that have allowed hospitals to impose financial liens on people who owed money to the hospital when Medicaid payments were lower than billed charges. This included a situation where a patient was in an automobile accident and the hospital attempted to collect money from the driver of the other vehicle.
Pickens County Medical Center is the most recent rural hospital to close in Alabama, reports WSFA12 News. Alabama Hospital Association Executive Vice PResident Danne Howard said more closures are possible, as this last closure becomes the 17th privately-run hospital to close in the state over the last decade. Howard said one of the most significant factors to hospital closures is the number of uninsured patients - hospitals are picking up the tab without receiving full compensation for caring for those without insurance.
Colorado has embarked on numerous healthcare reforms this year, reports Global Health News Wire. Major initiatives include creating the Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare, passing a reinsurance bill to sheild insurance plans form the costs of their sickest patients, initiating surprise billing protections, capping copays for insulin, and authorizing the Polis administration to develop a public option proposal. Though there is industry pushback to these initiatives from hospitals and insurers, there is no doubt that Colorado is ahead of the curve in healthcare initiatives.
Oklahoma’s Attorney General has joined a bipartisan coalition of 46 attorneys general from across the country filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court that supports the authority of the states to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, reports FOX25. The brief supports a law proposed by the state of Arkansas in 2015 that sought to require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to raise their reimbursement rate for a drug if the rate were to fall below the pharmacy's wholesale cost.