Health Update June 15, 2021
What does the end of the state emergency on June 15, 2021 mean for MassHealth
· The state emergency ends June 15, 2021, but the federal public health emergency does not. MassHealth policies tied to the federal public health emergency (PHE) will continue throughout 2021. People enrolled in MassHealth on March 18, 2020 or later are still protected from losing coverage during the federal PHE. Federal law also continues to assure coverage of COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccine administration at no cost to MassHealth members until 15 months after the end of the federal PHE.
· The MassHealth agency has been reviewing all the other policy changes it implemented to respond to the pandemic to determine which are still needed or required during the federal PHE, which should come to an end sooner, and which should be made permanent. The agency will be issuing updated written eligibility memos, provider bulletins and notices to its listserv in the days ahead.
· Meanwhile, it is our understanding that most of MassHealth’s “flexibilities” will be continuing for at least 90 days after June 15, 2021 and many will continue throughout the federal PHE with some becoming permanent.
o We expect MassHealth to limit the expanded use of self-attestation to verify income, assets and disability after Sept. 15, 2021.
§ Please let us know what kinds of proof are still difficult to obtain where retaining self-attestation will be particularly important: we have already flagged proof of unemployment income and proof of the exempt amount of stimulus payments in bank account balances.
o MassHealth will also be implementing a new online reservation system to book a video or telephone call with MassHealth Enrollment Center (MEC) workers as an alternative to in-person visits. It is expecting to reopen the MECs at the end of June, but with limited staffing. In-person fair hearings should also be available again sometime in July.
o MLRI will be updating our Table of COVID changes when MassHealth has released written guidance which should be soon. https://www.
Changes in MassHealth policies on renewals, the scope of the COVID continuous coverage protection and full-scope Health Safety Net (HSN) coverage for people also eligible for ConnectorCare
In our May 13, 2021 update we told you about new guidance from MassHealth describing certain changes to the scope of the COVID continuous coverage protection, the resumption of annual renewals and the end of a suspension of a Health Safety Net rule that time-limited full-scope Health Safety Net benefits for people eligible for ConnectorCare. We promised a memo helping advocates to understand what changes in coverage are permissible under the new guidance, who may be adversely affected by the changes and what advocates can do to help. That memo dated June 14, 2020 is posted here: https://www.masslegalservices.
- MassHealth has resumed mailing paper renewals and requests for information. Failing to return a renewal form or reply to a request for information, or changes that would ordinarily mean loss of MassHealth, will not mean termination of MassHealth during the PHE, but now it may mean being downgraded to a type of coverage with fewer benefits based on a data match.
- Most people should not be adversely affected by the new policy even if their coverage changes but some people with disabilities may need assistance to retain coverage that includes long term services and supports.
- People eligible for ConnectorCare but not enrolled will need to enroll by June 23 to have coverage on July 1 when full-scope HSN will end for those who do not have Limited. Open enrollment ends July 23, 2021.
- And some people in CHIP-funded non-Medicaid coverage who have been subject to redeterminations since last summer, may have landed in the wrong coverage & need help to obtain better benefits..
Confusion generated by MassHealth notices on monthly copayment caps
MassHealth mailed notices to members about a monthly cap on copayments beginning July 1, 2021 that will reduce the amount of copayments people with multiple prescriptions per month will have to pay. However, the wording of the notice has led to widespread confusion with many people thinking their copayments are being raised to the amount of the monthly cap. MassHealth says it is aware of the confusion and working on a communication strategy to address it. A copy of the notice, and an insert included with the notice are posted here. https://www.masslegalservices.
SAVE THE DATE: NEXT HEALTH CARE WORKING GROUP MEETING Wednesday JUNE 23, 2021 at 3-4:30 pm