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COVID 19 Related Updates - Jan 14, 2022

1. Secretary Becerra extended the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency for another 90 days from Jan 16, 2022. This is the 8th 90 day extension since the PHE was first declared in Jan 2020. 


For Medicaid beneficiaries, this means that the continuous coverage protection which protects most people from losing their current coverage during the PHE continues until at least April 30 2022 (the end of the month in which the PHE ends). It also continues various state "flexibilities" that are tied to the duration of the PHE. See MLRI's COVID Table for a running list of member-facing COVID 19 changes.


For the Commonwealth, this means it will be able to collect the enhanced federal matching rate for Medicaid spending at least through the end of June 2022 (the enhanced rate continues until the end of the quarter in which the PHE ends). This means more revenue in the General Fund in FY 2022.


Of course we don't know whether the PHE will be extended again in April, but the Secretary has promised the states 60 days advance notice before the PHE ends.


2. MassHealth payment for over the counter antigen home test kits eff Jan 14, 2022.


On Jan 14, 2022 MassHealth released All Provider Bulletin. 337 and Managed Care Entity Bulletin 80 providing that MassHealth pharmacy coverage will now include payment for 8 antigen at home tests per month without requiring an individual prescription or prior authorization. A related DPH standing order is here. (This coverage applies to test kits obtained from local pharmacies participating in MassHealth, not reimbursement for orders from online suppliers). Coverage of 8 at-home tests per month aligns with required coverage in private plans (including ConnectorCare plans and other plans purchased through the Health Connector) effective Jan 15, 2022. Medicare is still not covering at-home antigen tests but it says people with original Medicare can pick up free at-home test kits from community health centers. Free test kits may also be available from cities and towns