✦ HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) for an additional 90 days on July 19. The decision was something of a formality, as statements by Biden administration officials have indicated that the PHE will extend through the end of 2021 at the soonest. The Biden administration also promised in January that it would give governors at least 60 days’ notice before ending the emergency, to ensure stability in programs like Medicaid and CHIP, which have been bolstered by emergency pandemic funding. Citi analyst Ralph Giacobbe wrote in a July 19 note to investors that “the PHE should help many aspects related to reimbursement for both MCOs and healthcare providers, [and] the renewal of the PHE also ensures that COVID-19 molecular test reimbursement mechanism will also remain….Overall, we see the extension of the PHE as beneficial to our coverage universe in totality given the increased flexibility and reimbursement related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
✦ The Missouri Supreme Court on July 22 issued a unanimous opinion upholding a voter-approved expansion of Medicaid. After the state’s Republican-controlled legislature refused to allocated funds for an expansion initiative backed by a successful ballot initiative, Gov. Mike Parson (R) informed CMS that the state was withdrawing its plans to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state, prompting the legal battle. The state Supreme Court’s ruling reverses a circuit court decision.