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May 12, 2022 Health Update

Next HCWG Meeting

The poll results are in: New standing date for Health Care Working Group, 4th Wednesday of the month 3-4:30 pm. Save the Date for May 25, 2022.

FY 2023 Budget

This is the link for MLRI’s analysis of selected issues in the Senate Ways and Means budget which was released Tuesday and will be debated, amended and voted on next week. In MassHealth, SWM proposes to increase the upper income limit for the Medicare Savings Programs from the current 165% FPL to 225% FPL compared to the 250% proposed by the House and the 200% proposed by the Governor. SWM did not include the House provision for a two year pilot program to increase the upper income limit in ConnectorCare from the current 300% FPL to 500% FPL.

Immigrant Health Update

Health Coverage for Ukrainians. This is a link to information about current health coverage available from MassHealth or the Connector for people arriving in Massachusetts from the Ukraine. It includes information from the agencies as well as a factsheet written by MLRI. An emergency appropriation bill for the situation in the Ukraine that passed the U.S. House yesterday and is now before the US Senate provides that Ukrainians with humanitarian parole will be eligible for the same benefits as refugees.

Lift the Bar sign-on letter from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign

The LIFT the BAR (LTB) Act will be introduced in the Senate soon (it was introduced in the House last fall). The LIFT the BAR Act restores access to programs like Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP, by removing the five-year bar and other barriers that deny critical care and aid to people who are lawfully present. We are recirculating our LTB sign-on letter from last fall, and recruiting new sign-ons. Please sign on here if you haven’t already

COVID -19

Sign on letter to replenish the federal fund that was paying for COVID-related health costs for the uninsured.

How does this affect the uninsured in Massachusetts (without even MassHealth Limited)? COVID-19 vaccines are free and there are still free testing sites available and free at home test kits, but COVID treatment for the uninsured is only covered in MA by the Health Safety Net for people with income up to 150% FPL. Those with income from 150-300% FPL are still subject to a deductible even for COVID-related treatment, and of course HSN doesn’t help if treatment is needed from providers other than Hospitals and CHCs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and UnidosUS would like to invite national and state organizations to join a sign-on letter in support of the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program. This essential program has covered COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccine administration for uninsured individuals without cost sharing during the pandemic. Importantly, it remains one of the few means by which uninsured individuals can access these services regardless of immigration status. Unfortunately, the program has run out of funds and stopped accepting claims in early April. As Congress continues to negotiate over supplemental funding for COVID-19, we are lifting up the profile of the program and requesting that this program be included in the top priorities for domestic relief. Please let us know if you can sign on by COB this Friday, May 13. You can see the letter here and the form to sign on here.

Unwinding of Medicaid Continuous Coverage Protections

April 28, 2022 issue brief from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation with recommendations for reducing coverage losses when the federal Medicaid continuous coverage protections end.

CMS Proposes a New Medicare Special Enrollment Periods that will enable people who did not sign up for Medicare on time because they were “protected” in MassHealth to avoid Medicare late enrollment penalties after the Medicaid protection ends if they are at that point not eligible for either MassHealth or the Medicare Savings Programs and looking to Medicare for their health coverage. Learn more in this CMS fact sheet. The public comment period on the rule is open through June 27.

MassHealth Draft Comprehensive Quality Strategy open for comment thru May 27

This draft document includes a description of agency-wide quality goals and activities that support the achievement of those goals, identifies performance measurement strategies, and describes processes for quality program development, implementation, evaluation, and reporting.

EOHHS will accept comments on the draft quality strategy through May 27, 2022. Written comments may be submitted via email to mqo@massmail.state.ma.us.

Commenters should include “Comments MassHealth Quality Strategy” in the subject line.

Draft 2022 Comprehensive Quality Strategy - Open for public comment until May 27, 2022  PDF | Word