Managed Medicaid

AHIP Will Prioritize Telemedicine, Health Equity Post-Pandemic

On Feb. 23, health insurer trade group AHIP hosted a virtual State of the Industry presentation, reviewing progress made in 2021 and important issues for the health insurance industry as it looks to a world beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Eyles, president and CEO of AHIP, opened the conversation with a look at the organization’s 2021 initiatives and hopes for 2022. Eyles stressed the importance of the No Surprises Act, which aims to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. The legislation went into effect on Jan. 1, but it is currently the subject of a number of lawsuits filed by organizations including the American Hospital Association and American Medical Association. “AHIP continues to fight and protect the law,” Eyles said during the presentation.

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News Briefs: America’s Physician Groups and Others Are Urging CMS Not to Cancel GPDC Model

America’s Physician Groups (APG) and other stakeholders at press time were urging the Biden administration not to cancel the Global and Professional Direct Contracting (GPDC) model. The model, in which provider groups and other entities share risk and receive capitated payments for serving fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries, formally launched in April 2021 and has drawn interest from Medicare Advantage organizations. Although CMS put a pause on new applicants for the 2022 performance year, progressive lawmakers have asked the administration to stop it out of concern that private entities are seeking to funnel FFS enrollees into managed care without their knowing. In a sign-on letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, APG and other groups suggested that instead of canceling the model, the administration should limit participation to provider-led entities and “place additional guardrails and add more beneficiary protections.”

New York Medicaid Insurer Hopes Virtual Care Will Boost Access

MVP Health Care has launched a new virtual care offering for its New York Medicaid members that allows them to connect with primary care and specialty care physicians through an app made by the digital health company Galileo. Kimberly Kilby, M.D., the insurer’s vice president and medical director of health and well-being, and Christopher Del Vecchio, president and CEO of MVP Health Care, tell AIS Health that they want the new partnership to improve health equity for the insurer’s Medicaid beneficiaries.

The new partnership with Galileo is part of a multiyear effort at MVP to address an unmet need for virtual care. “Over the last 18 months, nearly 40% of MVP’s Medicaid members have not seen a primary care physician (PCP), often due to competing demands on time and resources such as transportation and language barriers,” Del Vecchio tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT, via email.

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Centene’s MA Gains Swell Stock, But Could Have Downside

Centene Corp.’s shares rose following its fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 earnings release on Feb. 8, with the market seemingly impressed with the insurer’s Medicaid and Medicare Advantage membership gains. Still, one equities analyst sounded a note of skepticism about what large MA enrollment gains will mean for Centene’s margins.

“Outsized share gains in MA are typically a cautionary sign for margin,” Jefferies analyst David Windley wrote in a Feb. 8 note to investors. Centene’s management “is signaling flat ’22 MA margin, but is flat still optimistic with multiple competitors calling out CNC’s aggressive pricing?”

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News Briefs: Rhode Island Subpoenas UnitedHealth Over Data Breach

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, a Democrat, subpoenaed UnitedHealthcare over a recent data breach that saw the personal data of 22,000 plan beneficiaries get hacked by an unknown third party. The exposed beneficiaries were members of the health plan of the Rhode Island Public Transport Authority, which discovered the breach, Modern Healthcare reported.

The number of telehealth visits has declined as the pandemic has receded, according to analysis of Epic Systems Corp. data by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The research indicates telehealth visits accounted for 13% of outpatient visits between March and August 2020, but declined to 11% of outpatient visits between September 2020 and February 2021 and 8% of such visits from March to August.

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CMS Rule Proposes to Take Dual Integration to the Next Level

In its new rule proposing an array of policy and technical changes for the 2023 Medicare Advantage and Part D contract year, CMS devoted a large section to advancing integration of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for dually eligible individuals. Though the rule is largely in line with the goals of the SNP Alliance, whose member plans serve approximately 2.5 million Special Needs Plan (SNP) enrollees, the organization says many of the proposals will require greater collaboration between states and plans, as well as more specificity and standardization around the proposed collection of social determinants of health (SDOH) data.

The proposed rule, Medicare Program; Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs (87 Fed. Reg. 1842, Jan. 12, 2022), included the following provisions:

Medicaid Waiver Whiplash Can Be Problematic for MCOs

Since taking office, the Biden administration has taken a hard line on Section 1115 Medicaid waivers, rescinding multiple demonstrations that were approved by the Trump administration and subsequently becoming ensnared in legal fights with Republican-leaning states. Such disputes may wind up being detrimental to Medicaid managed care organizations, which in some cases spent considerable resources on implementing waiver demonstration programs that may never come to fruition.

The latest legal conflict is in Georgia, where the state is trying to preserve an 1115 waiver that the Trump administration approved. Georgia’s waiver would have imposed premiums and work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries, with the added twist of expanding Medicaid eligibility just for the population earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level — rather than 138% like with regular Medicaid expansion — and therefore receiving a smaller federal funding match.

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As Medicaid Enrollment Soars, States Ask MCOs to Intensify Social Determinants of Health Efforts

States are moving to better address social determinants of health (SDOH) and improve health equity in their Medicaid programs, and they’re asking MCOs to drive the change, according to an analysis of recent requests for proposals (RFPs) from advocacy group Together for Better Medicaid. The report identified RFPs from 10 states that have extensive SDOH and equity-based requirements for MCOs, from member screenings and staff training to close collaboration with community-based organizations (CBOs). Meanwhile, Medicaid enrollment has surged in all 10 states amid the COVID-19 pandemic. National Medicaid enrollment climbed 18.4% from March 2020 to December 2021, according to AIS’s Directory of Health Plans. See an overview of the most common SDOH requirements and the 10 states’ recent enrollment patterns below.

News Briefs: Centene Agrees to Pay $21.1 Million to Settle NH Medicaid Pharmacy Issues | Jan. 20, 2022

Centene Corp. this month agreed to pay $21.1 million to resolve inaccuracies related to the reporting of pharmacy benefit services costs for New Hampshire’s Medicaid Managed Care Management Program. In a Jan. 6 press release unveiling the settlement agreement, Attorney General John Formella said the state Dept. of Health and Human Services and Dept. of Justice began investigating Centene’s provision of pharmacy benefit services after similar probes in other states were made public. The agreement follows similar settlements in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi and Ohio over the last year for a total of $214 million in payouts. Centene did not admit any liability, wrongdoing or violation of federal or state law. “This no-fault agreement reflects our commitment to prompt and transparent resolution of this matter and relentless focus on delivering high-quality healthcare outcomes to our members in the Granite State,” Centene said in a statement published by The Daily Journal.

2022 Outlook: Experts See Favorable Milieu for Payers, but Uncertainties Loom

The federal government may be spurred to action on several fronts, from seeking to maintain elevated health insurance exchange subsidies to further extensions of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), which would have beneficial short- and long-term financial implications for health insurers in 2022.

Those are just two areas that, pending federal action, could deliver significant wins for health plans this year, according to a panel of experts from Avalere Health during the Jan. 6 webinar, Avalere 2022 Healthcare Industry Outlook: Advance Your Opportunity.

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