Certintell’s blog series, “Industry Insights,” takes a look at what topics are buzzing with popularity in the mHealth and care management arena for Community Health Centers (CHCs), FQHCs and other community-based organizations. Here, you can explore how legislation might affect your workflows, what statistics might be preventing better patient outcomes, and tips for pushing past your biggest care barriers. Stay on top of what CHC news you should know below! This month, explore new government announcements aiming to improve care from POC mothers, migrants and rural citizens. Plus get more info on telehealth and insurance coverage requirements for the post-PHE transition.
New Initiatives to Support Minority Mothers Announced Announced
In celebration of Black Maternal Health Week, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced approximately $468 million in new funds across several programs including:
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which will receive up to $435 million to continue to support pregnant individuals and parents with young children who live in SDOH-ridden communities.
State Maternal Health Innovation Program, which will receive up to $23 million to implement state-specific actions that address disparities in maternal health and improve maternal health outcomes
Maternal Health Research Collaborative for Minority-Serving Institutions, which will receive up to $10 million to establish a network comprised of minority-serving institutions to conduct research addressing disparities in maternal mortality
This special week is celebrated every year April 11-17 during National Minority Health Month in recognition of the fact that maternal mortality rates for black and Native American women is 2.5-3 times higher than their white counterparts. Not to mention that the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations.
In addition to the funding announcement, the Biden-Harris administration released a “Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis” document which, outlines multiple actions that will be taken to improve disparities in the coming years. One top priority is ensuring comprehensive and continuous maternal health insurance coverage during pregnancy and for no less than one-year after.
Furthermore, the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 includes $471 million that will be allocated to support ongoing implementation of the aforementioned blueprint; broaden maternal health initiatives in rural communities; enact implicit bias training for providers and more.
Providers Offered 90-Day Transition Period For Telehealth Services Post-PHE
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a department under HHS, has granted healthcare providers 90 days following the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) to comply with HIPAA regulations for telehealth services. The transition period will be in effect from May 12 to August 9. Healthcare organizations will need to implement any necessary changes during that period to ensure telehealth services provided align with HIPAA standards.
During the pandemic, providers were given telehealth flexibilities in regard to state licensure and confidentiality capabilities within the telehealth platforms they used. All other telehealth provisions will expire in 2023 or 2024.
White House Expanding Migrant Health Care Access
In Mid-April, the Biden administration announced that individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children will be able to apply for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges. These individuals are often a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Only participants in the Obama-era DACA program will be eligible for this extended coverage opportunity. DACA recipients can legally work in the U.S. and are subject to taxes, but they don’t have full legal status and are denied many benefits, which previously included access to federally funded health insurance, available to U.S. citizens.
The Biden Administration announced that they hoped to expand access to federally-funded health insurance by the end of April. These efforts could have a significant impact on improving access to healthcare for immigrants who have faced barriers in the past.
CDC’s New Office of Rural Health Gears Up for Change
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inaugurated its first ever Office of Rural Health. It will only be the second federal office, besides HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, to dedicate efforts specifically for these geographically-isolated individuals.
Rather than comparing rural vs. non rural statistics, the office will focus specifically on what can currently be done within rural communities to decrease disparities. Its efforts will most likely be focused on prevention and the monitoring of rural public health, rather than increasing access to care. The Office of Rural Health will be less data driven, compared to other offices within the CDC, officials say.
While the office currently only has three staff members, it plans to ramp up its staff as well as partner with other organizations who are already collecting data on rural communities to create plans of action.
Medicaid Determinations Create Strain on Community Health Centers
Community health centers across the United States are being stretched even thinner as millions of people face the potential loss of Medicaid coverage due to the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ending. The redetermination process can be difficult for individuals to navigate, and many may lose their coverage even if they are still eligible.
Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 patients in community health centers have coverage through a public payer, such as Medicaid, or are uninsured. Consequently, redeterminations could result in decreased revenue for community health centers, as they rely on federal funding, and make it more difficult for them to provide care to those who need it.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) surveyed more than 400 community health centers across the United States about the redetermination process and found:
- 58 percent of respondents expected at least 10 percent or more of their Medicaid beneficiaries would lose coverage
- An additional 28 percent of respondents expect that 15 percent or more of their Medicaid beneficiaries will lose coverage.
- Respondents also predicted that a whopping 72 percent of patients with chronic disease would lose coverage
- 85 percent of community health centers are concerned that loss of Medicaid income could lead to financial challenges and are therefore lobbying for more money to ramp up support efforts to keep their patients insured.
Check back here at the end of every month for more CHC news!