COVID-19 has further shed light on the inequities that exist in our healthcare system, including implicit biases and overall access to healthcare. External conditions can exacerbate one’s ability to be physically healthy, such as racism, environmental factors, and family economic security. The pandemic emphasizes how one person’s access to quality healthcare can impact an entire community, such as knowledge that one is carrying the COVID-19 virus. This gives us the opportunity to do better in ensuring that our residents have fair and just access to what they need to sustain a quality of life and positive health outcomes. There are a combination of multidisciplinary approaches to ensure that everyone has the equal and equitable ability to live a long, healthy, and successful life.
Here are some of the bills which passed in this year’s General Assembly session to aid in healthcare access:
Expanding Coverage to Immigrant Populations
- Clarify that Medicaid “Emergency Services” specifically cover COVID-19 screening, testing, and all related treatment, HB2124, Delegate Lopez. Directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to cover COVID-19 services, such as treatments and vaccinations, to be emergency services, for immigrants that meet the requirement for Medicaid. Federal HRSA funds would be use in lieu of Medicaid. This bill would kick in if those funds were no longer allotted.
- Health Care Coverage Options for Undocumented Children. Convenes a workgroup to research and recommend strategies for the financing of health care coverage for undocumented immigrant children.
- Coverage of Prenatal Services, costs savings from Medicaid match. Allows the payment for prenatal care coverage for income-eligible immigrant mothers through Medicaid. Currently undocumented immigrant moms only receive health coverage for birth and delivery. Prenatal coverage would begin with a state plan amendment is approved. Coming: Summer/Fall 2021.
Investing in Healthy Birth Outcomes
- Directs the state Health Commissioner to establish a Task Force on Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures, HB2111, Delegate Herring. The purpose of the Task Force is to examine maternal health data collection processes and establish policies to improve maternal care, quality, and outcomes. The Task Force would report its findings and conclusions to the Governor and General Assembly by December 1 of each year and will conclude its work by December 1, 2023.
- Analysis of Medicaid/FAMIS coverage and outcomes, $500,000 allotted in budget for FY22. Funds are provided to the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to contract for an analysis of payment, authorization, and provider requirements contributing to the outcomes of Medicaid and FAMIS-covered pregnancies and births.
- Increase access to doula care for pregnant women, $2.4 million allotted in budget for FY22. Provides increased access to doula care for pregnant women. Doulas have been shown to have a demonstrated impact to reduce racial disparities in maternal health.
- Medicaid doula provider training and resources, $135,320 allotted for FY22. Funds the second year and one position for the Department of Medical Assistance Services to develop and implement a provider training program for Doula service providers to learn how to explain patient access and bill for Medicaid benefits.
- Plan for Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team, $51,146 allotted for FY22. Directs the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to convene a work group to develop a plan for the establishment of a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team by December 1, 2021.
- Task Force for Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures, $151,180 for FY22. Requires the State Health Commissioner to establish a Task Force on Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures for the purpose of evaluating maternal health data collection to guide policies to improve maternal care, quality, and outcomes for pregnant women.
- Funding to increase access to substance abuse treatment, $38,564 allotted for FY22. Funding allows members enrolled in FAMIS MOMS to access to treatment in an Institution for Mental Diseases under the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ART) waiver.