State News

Oregon | Dec 6, 2021 | Report

Oregon Announces Funding Opportunity for Community-Based Organizations

The Oregon Health Authority released a request for grant applications for community-based organizations that will create partnerships with underserved communities. More than $31 million in funding is available, as part of the authority’s goal to eliminate health inequities by 2030.

Minnesota | Dec 3, 2021 | News Story | Equity

University of St. Thomas Believes it Can Solve Healthcare Worker Shortage and Gaps in Racial Health Outcomes

A new nursing program at the University of St. Thomas’ Morrison Family College of Health will focus on health equity and enroll at least 30 percent of the student body from historically excluded communities, reports the Sahan Journal. Currently, 91 percent of registered nurses in Minnesota are white and the school hopes to help create a more diverse and equity-focused nursing workforce. By relying less on academic metrics and more on an applicant’s background, St. Thomas hopes they will meet their benchmark. The nursing program will inject social justice advocacy into the curriculum by deploying nursing students on the streets of downtown Minneapolis to provide care for those experiencing homelessness through a partnership with Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.

Hawaii | Dec 1, 2021 | Report | Equity

Hawaii Ranks in Top Six States for Healthcare by Racial and Ethnic Groups

Hawaii is one of six states that rank above average in healthcare for all ethnic groups, reports State of Reform. Hawaii ranked number 2 for Latinx/Hispanic groups; 5 for white; and 6 for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander groups according to a Commonwealth Fund study; the study did not rank Hawaii for Black or American Indian, Alaska Native groups. Despite ranking above the national average for Latinx/Hispanic people, it ranked significantly lower than white and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander groups. Hawaii’s low uninsurance rate and high rates of preventative care services may contribute to these high rankings, though the state still has rates of health disparities similar to those found across the country.

Minnesota | Dec 1, 2021 | Report

Minnesota’s Targeted Fix to the Family Glitch Should be an Example

Minnesota passed a law in June 2021 to implement a partial fix to the “family glitch” for low-income families by leveraging the state’s Basic Health Program—MinnesotaCare—to provide coverage to those with incomes between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a post in Health Affairs Forefront. The plan provides coverage with low premiums, limited copays and no deductibles. The state will finance the entire cost of expanding MinnesotaCare to this newly eligible group with one-time general fund dollars and funds from Minnesota’s Health Care Access Fund. However, there is no federal Basic Health Plan financing, as newly eligible enrollees don’t qualify for a premium tax credit in a Marketplace Plan. The “family glitch” refers to an IRS interpretation of the premium tax credit eligibility requirement for those purchasing a Qualified Health Plan on the health insurance Marketplaces that results in some spouses and dependents being denied access to premium subsidies even when they do not have access to affordable employer coverage. An employer offer of coverage is considered affordable if the employee’s contribution toward the cost of the premium for employee-only coverage does not exceed 9.83 percent of the employee's household income, not whether the offer is affordable for a family.

Colorado | Nov 18, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs

​​​​Report Documents Continued Rise in Healthcare Costs in Colorado

Colorado’s Center for Improving Value in Healthcare’s Community Dashboard documents the continued rise in healthcare costs for Coloradoans, reports The dashboard contains 2013-2020 data from Colorado’s APCD to document the increasing costs, despite positive trends showing less utilization of high-cost services and improved quality of care.

Rhode Island | Nov 11, 2021 | Report | Health Costs

Rhode Island Joins the Peterson-Milbank Program on Sustainable Health Care Costs

Rhode Island joined the Peterson-Milbank Program for Sustainable Health Care Costs to improve the affordability of healthcare and contain unsustainable healthcare spending, according to the Milbank Memorial Fund. Rhode Island is an active player in implementing efforts to limit healthcare cost growth—with which the Peterson-Milbank program will provide technical assistance. Rhode Island aims to increase affordability gains for consumers and integrate an equity lens into their affordability work.

Massachusetts | Nov 5, 2021 | Report | Health Costs Affordability

​​​​​​​State Health Policy Commission Recommends Cost Controls

After the second consecutive year that healthcare cost growth exceeded a state target, Massachusetts’ Health Policy Commission recommended a series of steps intended to respond to the continually rising cost of care, reports the State House News Service in the Patriot Ledger. The recommendations, from the Commission’s annual cost trends report, include price caps for the most expensive providers, greater scrutiny around hospital outpatient and ambulatory care expansions and new affordability standards for health plans. The Commission noted that price growth is a primary driver of the state’s overall spending growth and that premiums and out-of-pocket spending are rising faster than incomes.

District of Columbia | Nov 4, 2021 | News Story | Equity

D.C. Insurer to Set Up Fund to Address Health Disparities

CareFirst—an insurance company that provides plans in D.C., Maryland and Virginia—will pay $95 million to set up a fund in D.C. to address health disparities, reports the Washington PostThis comes as the result of a years-long legal battle between the District and CareFirst over the insurer’s surplus funds. CareFirst agreed to establish a Health Equity Fund for the District and will provide grants to reduce health disparities or to address social and environmental problems that affect D.C. residents’ health.

Rhode Island | Nov 2, 2021 | News Story

OHIC Releases Rhode Island Market Summary Data

Rhode Island’s Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) released data on trends in health insurance enrollment, enrollment demographics, cost trends, claims and other important information to highlight trends and shifts in the Rhode Island market, reports AboutHealthTransparency.orgFindings included: the individual market has the highest cost-sharing; professional services represented almost one-third of the total fully insured market allowed claims; primary care allowed claims decreased in all markets except the individual market in 2020. The data from this market summary are intended to highlight the major cost drivers of health insurance premiums for advocates and policymakers.

Colorado | Oct 27, 2021 | News Story | Consumer Voices

How Billing Turns a Routine Birth into a High-Cost Emergency

Caitlin Wells Salerno was expecting a bill for the birth of her baby, but was shocked to see a significant charge for the highest level of emergency services, reports Kaiser Health News. Wells Salerno had a routine vaginal delivery and had only checked in at the ER on her way to labor and delivery—she didn’t receive any services in the ER that are reserved for the most serious cases and receive the highest amount of reimbursement. Wells Salerno tried contacting the insurer and fighting the charge, but eventually gave up and paid the bill, noting that she was at a very vulnerable place immediately postpartum and had been taken advantage of when she wasn’t in a position to fight back.