IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about COVID-19 vaccination efforts, trends in employer-sponsored health benefits, Georgia’s 1332 waiver, and more.
Rising prescription drug prices affect both consumers and the federal government, and President Biden, like his predecessors, is considering a number of strategies to tackle this issue. In a recent blog post, IMPAQ Health experts Jacqueline Kim and Karishma Desai take a look at efforts to address Medicare prescription prices over the last few years and examine actions the Biden administration might take.
Roughly 900,000 children ages 5-11 are expected to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose within their first week of eligibility, signaling a strong start to the youth vaccination effort. At the same time, Black and Latino community advocates are concerned that a lack of data on the racial breakdown of COVID-19 vaccination rates among children could conceal disparities. According to the CDC, there are similarly strong vaccination rates among seniors, with 85.8 percent of adults 65 and older being fully vaccinated. Despite these optimistic figures, experts are raising concerns about increases in COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Mountain West and the Northern United States.

In other COVID-19 news:

  • The FDA plans to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine this week for those who are already fully vaccinated.
Health Policy News
The second annual Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey since the onset of COVID-19 found that the pandemic led to changes in benefits provided by employers, such as the expansion of telemedicine benefits and addition of wellness and biometric screening programs. Other metrics that Kaiser studies, such as the rates of premium increases and how much employees contribute to their coverage, are about the same as last year or before the pandemic. Health Affairs (11/10)
In November 2020, Georgia received CMS approval to restructure its individual health insurance market, making it the only state to not have a marketplace when the waiver takes effect. In light of changes under the American Rescue Plan Act and the COVID-19 special enrollment period, CMS requested updated analyses of Georgia’s waiver for evaluation purposes. The state failed to provide economic analyses of the waiver multiple times, prompting CMS to open a 60-day comment period. Officials have encouraged Georgia to submit the requested data and analysis before the closing date of Jan. 9, 2022. Health Affairs (11/12)
In a recent blog post, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, and Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) Deputy Administrator Daniel Tsai describe CMCS's strategic priorities and policy agenda. The authors discuss three key areas of focus—coverage and access, innovation and whole-person care, and equity—and the strategies that CMCS will use to make progress in each. Health Affairs (11/16)
Medicare Advantage, an alternative to Medicare run by private health insurance companies, has enrolled almost 27 million members and cost taxpayers more than $106 billion dollars from 2010 through 2019. Medicare pays the plans by calculating a “risk score” for each enrollee based on their health status, a method that critics believe is the reason for the rising costs. Kaiser Health News (11/11)
Graphic of the Week
Stay Tuned: Exciting Changes in Early 2022
Earlier this year, we asked our readers to tell us what they think about IMPAQ Health News. With that information and after nearly 50 issues of IMPAQ Health News, we’re taking the opportunity to refresh the newsletter. Though our look might be a little different next year, we’ll continue to provide you with important health policy news and developments, as well as information from the American Institutes for Research.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
COVID-19 vaccination rates are significantly lower among people covered by Medicaid than the general population. Join the National Academy of State Health Policy and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy for a roundtable discussion on how immunization stakeholders are working together to address challenges and promote equitable vaccination access to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates among Medicaid enrollees. 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.