Health Update Jan. 6, 2021
Sign on deadline Jan 8, 2021: Protecting Immigrant Families sign-on letter to urge Biden administration to take immediate action to reverse the public charge rule. Click here to sign your organization onto the letter. The sign-on deadline is this Friday, January 8. Local, state, and national groups and organizations are welcome to sign!
Comment deadline extended to Jan. 12, 2021 on MassHealth proposed estate recovery regulations. See public notice and comments of MLRI and 13 other organizations here
12/27/20: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Act is enacted and includes:
· A second round of Economic Incentive Payments (EIP) from the IRS. These payments will be $600 per eligible adult or child with distribution starting Dec 30, 2020. Like the earlier payments, this money will not be counted as income by MassHealth or the Health Connector. More information about the second round stimulus payments from CLASP.
· Extension of various kinds of unemployment compensation including an added $300 per week in federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) payable for weeks starting 12/27/20 to 3/13/21. Like the earlier $600 FPUC payments, this money is treated differently by MassHealth and the Connector. MassHealth will not count the added $300 FPUC as current monthly income. The Health Connector will count the added $300 FPUC as part of 2021 expected annual income. More information about the unemployment provisions from GBLS.
· Extension of the CDC eviction moratorium and additional funding for rent relief. More information on housing provisions from NLIHC
· 15% increase in SNAP benefits. More information on this and other nutrition provisions from FRAC .
· $69 billion to expand vaccine distribution, test-and-trace measures, and other public-health efforts; $7 billion for expanded broadband, compromise on surprise medical bills, and more. See, Section by Section Summary
1/1/21: On Dec 23 & 29 the House & Senate overrode the Governor’s veto regarding MassHealth adult dental services! This restores $19 million in the 4000-0700 account along with language requiring coverage of root canal treatments and crowns effective Jan. 1, 2021. This is the final step in 10 years of tireless advocacy to restore the full scope of adult dental services that were cut in 2010.
1/1/21: Governor signs c. 260 of 2020 Acts, “An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first” including the following key provisions:
- Requiring coverage parity for telehealth services (including telephone audio only)and implementing permanent telehealth rate parity for behavioral health services. Additionally, it requires rate parity for telehealth coverage for primary care and chronic disease management services for two years, and rate parity for all services for 90 days past the state of emergency.
- Increasing disclosures around provider costs and network status to protect consumers from surprise medical bills and requiring a report and recommendations on billing
- Eliminating referral requirements before urgent care visits by MassHealth members.
- Requiring insurers, including MassHealth, to cover all COVID-19 related emergency, inpatient, and cognitive rehab services without cost-sharing at both in-network and out of network providers. Additionally, coverage is required for medically necessary outpatient COVID-19 testing, including for asymptomatic individuals under guidelines from the Secretary of EOHHS.
- Enhanced Medicaid payments for two years to community hospitals that serve a high number of low income patients
- Directing a study and report of the impacts of COVID-19 on the health care system
- Expanding Scope of Practice for Advanced Practice Nurses and Optometrists
1/1/21: Increase in state minimum wage to $13.50 per hour takes effect
1/1/21: 10% grant increase takes effect for TAFDC & EAEDC beneficiaries
Massachusetts Vaccine Distribution
MassHealth will cover the vaccines for members in MassHealth Standard, CommonHealth, Family Assistance, CarePlus, and the Children’s Medical Security Plan.
There is no cost sharing for any vaccines.
Individuals with MassHealth Limited and Health Safety Net patients without other coverage (MassHealth Limited is notconsidered coverage for purposes of this paragraph) are considered uninsured for purposes of COVID-19 vaccination. Providers should submit their claims for COVID-19 vaccine administration to the HRSA Portal for Uninsured Individuals at https://coviduninsuredclaim.
COVID-19 Eviction Legal Help Project for Massachusetts Residents
As evictions start to increase, the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) is scaling up statewide to provide more legal resources to prevent eviction during the pandemic. The project will help tenants facing eviction and owner-occupants who live in 2 and 3-family houses who are filing an eviction. To be eligible for free legal help a household's income must be under 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. CELHP is a joint project between MLRI, the Mass Legal Assistance Corporation and the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project.
To find out where your clients and patients can get legal help, how you can refer tenants, and for more information about tenants' rights and resources go to evictionlegalhelp.org.