IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about progress in COVID-19 vaccination efforts, COVID-19 health implications, a new health equity tracker, and more.
Premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs are on the rise for consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance. In some households, these increased costs consume a significant portion of income and can be particularly burdensome. In a new Issue Brief, IMPAQ Health experts use survey data and other methods to identify which individuals are most at risk of experiencing high health care spending.
Equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a critical part of ending the pandemic, and faith-based organizations and state policy interventions play a role in reaching this goal. In a web forum hosted by IMPAQ Health and the Public Health Institute (PHI) at 3 PM ET, Thursday, June 17, Dr. Mary Pittman, president and CEO of PHI, and Pastor James D. Gailliard, a state representative in the North Carolina Assembly, reflect upon vaccination efforts to date, successful strategies, and ways to build trust in communities.
COVID-19 Vaccine Updates. As of Wednesday (6/2), 63 percent of US adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting the United States on pace to meet the Biden administration’s objective of having 70% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. States are beginning to implement strategies to reach adolescents ages 12-15, such as designating schools as vaccination sites and educating parents on the importance of making sure their children get the vaccine.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Commission announced on May 28 that federal EEO laws do not prevent employers from issuing vaccination mandates for employees who will be physically entering a workplace, as long as employer mandates comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant laws. Employers may also offer incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated; however, incentives cannot be coercive.
Rules and Reports/Government Updates
The Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as CMS administrator on May 25, making her the first Black woman to hold this position. She will be tasked with fulfilling the administration’s goals of expanding access to health insurance and addressing prescription drug prices. Brooks-LaSure served in the White House Office of Management and Budget under the George W. Bush administration and worked in Congress and at CMS in senior policy roles during the Obama administration. AP News (5/25)
CMS notified Next Generation (NextGen) Accountable Care Organization (ACO) participants that the program will sunset as planned at the end of 2021. CMS cited a “net-spending increase of $117.5 Million and no net savings for CMS” as a reason for the decision. Current NextGen ACOs may request to join the Global and Professional Direct Contracting Model, starting in Performance Year (PY) 2022, as a Standard Direct Contracting Entity or apply to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for PY 2022. RevCycle Intelligence (5/24)
Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. have issued a letter requesting input from stakeholders to develop legislation for a national public health insurance option. With no federal proposals on the table, stakeholders are likely to base their suggestions on public option plans introduced at the state level. For instance, Washington state passed legislation to implement a public option in 2019; Colorado and Nevada are also considering public option proposals. Health Affairs (5/27)
An analysis conducted by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that Medicaid enrollment increased 17.7 percent between February 2020 and March 2021. This increase in enrollment was driven by pandemic-related job and income losses, as well as Medicaid expansions in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah. Pew (5/26)
Spotlight on AIR
Health care, public health, housing, education, transportation, justice, and human services all affect the health and well-being of community members. However, these community members are often left out of the development of such systems’ policies and practices, and this exclusion has contributed to long-standing inequities in health and well-being. Shared measurement, or using a common set of measurable goals that reflect shared priorities across systems and with community members, is one way to address this. Tamika Cowans, a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, and Al Richmond, executive director of the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, discuss the development of five guiding principles for shared measurement in a webinar hosted by the National Center for Complex Health & Social Needs at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 17.
Health Implications of COVID-19
The Morehouse School of Medicine and several partner organizations created a Healthy Equity Tracker, which aggregates demographic data to produce a detailed view of health outcomes in the US. The team behind the tracker hopes it will help inform the creation of actionable policies to address health inequities. Satcher Health Leadership Institute (5/26)
Returning to “normal” life after the pandemic may be particularly difficult for Black, Indigenous, Asian American, and other communities of color. In addition to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on many communities of color, these communities also may have experienced significant racial trauma over the past year, from the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, to the Atlanta spa shooting in March of 2021. Experts note that as employers make plans to re-open, they should keep in mind what their employees may have experienced over the last several months. CNBC (5/25)
The Epic Health Research Network analyzed electronic medical records from approximately 80 U.S. hospitals to find that eating disorders in adolescents ages 12-18 rose by 30 percent after March 2020, compared with data from the previous two years. The increase is likely related to the anxiety and isolation many felt during the pandemic; the two experiences are typically significant components of eating disorders. AP News (5/23)
Graphic of the Week
To kick off Pride Month, the National Institution for Health Care Management (NIHCM) and The Trevor Project examine the increased risk of suicide and living in foster care for LGBTQ youth and strategies to support these children. LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, with rates increasing among transgender, nonbinary, and nonwhite youth.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
CMS Quality Measurement: Where It’s Headed and How We’ll Get There Webinar, CMS
CMS will discuss goals for advancing quality measurement in the next 5-10 years, focusing on streamlining measures to reduce burden and the transition to digital quality measures. CMS staff will also provide an overview and highlight key components of its newly finalized Digital Quality Measurement Blueprint. Register for the Tuesday session or Thursday session.
CDC is offering a series of brief (15-20 minute) webinars addressing topics around COVID-19 vaccination. These interactive, web-based training modules offer a real-world perspective on different issues around COVID-19 vaccines. Topics range from routine clinical and vaccine safety information to guidance for on-site clinic vaccination activities and having conversations with vaccine recipients. Browse the different webinar topics.
Monday, June 7 – Thursday, June 10, 2021
Speakers will present practical case studies and solutions for advancing health equity. Registration is free and Continuing Education Credit is available. Register here.
Wednesday, June 9 – Thursday, June 10, 2021
The Alliance for Health Policy's Health and the Economy Summit offers attendees the opportunity to engage in critical conversations with a variety of stakeholders on the most pressing issues related to health care in our nation. Register here.
NOTE: The information, analyses, and opinions expressed in the articles, publications, or comments contained therein are those of the authors and should not be considered verified or endorsed by IMPAQ or any of our partners or clients.