IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about health care workers and food insecurity, milestones in COVID-19 cases and vaccination, the new HHS climate office, and more.
Lacking access to nutritious food can lead to poor health outcomes, such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression. IMPAQ Health experts and colleagues, Mithuna Srinivasan, Xi Cen, Brandy Farrar, Jennifer A. Pooler, and Talia Fish, sought to better understand how those in the health care workforce experience food insecurity. In a study published in Health Affairs, they explain their findings, including that health care support workers as well as health technologists and technicians were more likely to be food insecure than practitioners who diagnose and treat patients.
The Role of Community Health Workers
The health care workforce has been a crucial part of combatting COVID-19. As the pandemic continues and resources are stretched thin, community health workers can play a role in reaching out to community members and relieving some of the pressure on physicians. In light of the Labor Day holiday, here are two recent pieces developed by IMPAQ Health experts that touch on the health care workforce: an issue brief that explores the role of community health workers and a blog examining how community health workers can help alleviate physician burnout.
Delta Variant & Related Updates. On 8/23, the FDA granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine; this could boost confidence in the shots for some individuals and prompt universities, corporations, and municipal governments to mandate vaccination. Meanwhile, the Biden administration plans to distribute Pfizer booster shots beginning the week of 9/20.

  • California, Louisiana, and New York are the first states to implement digital vaccine credentials, or “vaccine passports.” In the spring of 2021, the Biden administration indicated that it would issue nationwide standards on such credentials.
Administration Awards & Appointments
HHS announced that it will provide $80 million in grant awards to increase the number of navigators nationwide to 1,500. The new funding—split in three, 12-month increments and spread across 60 local navigator organizations—was designed to provide more stability for local awardee organizations, reduce yearly start-up time, and provide more support for underserved populations as they learn about ACA plans. Fierce Healthcare (8/27)

  • The funding announcement comes after an Urban Institute report found that the rate of uninsured in the U.S. is the same as it was pre-pandemic, though public coverage has increased.
On 8/30, CMS announced Dr. Ellen Montz will be the new deputy administrator and director for CCIIO. Most recently she served as chief deputy and chief health economist at Virginia’s Medicaid agency. She previously worked at HHS during the Obama administration and served on the White House Domestic Policy Council and U.S. Senate Finance Committee. CMS Newsroom (8/30)
HHS has launched a new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity to work with health care providers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and promote health equity and resilience in the face of climate change. Part of the effort includes identifying and assisting communities with disproportionate exposure to the effects of climate change. The health sector is estimated to be responsible for roughly 10% of all carbon emissions in the country. The Hill (8/30)
Health Policy Updates
President Biden is urging Democrats to include three key measures to control rising prescription drug costs in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. The first would give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, the second would penalize pharmaceutical companies if they raise prices faster than inflation, and the third would place a cap on how much Medicare patients spend out of pocket on medications. New York Times (8/29)
New data show that hospitals are charging patients a wide range of prices for the same services and that insurance companies are negotiating poor rates for their customers, according to the New York Times. The data was reported as part of new federal price transparency requirements. However, many hospitals are not complying with the new requirements, making it difficult or impossible for consumers to research prices. New York Times (8/22)
Over two-thirds of ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program earned shared savings in 2020 amounting to almost $2.3 billion. ACOs that took on more financial risk were more likely to earn bonuses than those with less or no downside risk, reflecting the Biden administration’s commitment to testing total cost-of-care models as a health system intervention. Modern Healthcare (8/25)
Graphic of the Week
In a recently updated infographic, the National Institute for Health Care Management examines the rising mental health issues among young people in the United States and offers strategies to support mental health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
Join the Bipartisan Policy Center for a discussion of the potential expansion of long-term services and supports—to include both home and community-based services—for the aging population, low-income Americans, and those who do not qualify for Medicaid. Register here.
Tune in to two complimentary sessions during the Virtual Value-Based Payment Summit, funded by the Commonwealth Fund, to learn more about CMS’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation payment models. Register here

Session I: How Can ACO and Specialty Models Co-exist?
Monday, September 20, 2021, 3:30 PM ET – 5:00 PM ET

Session II: Supporting Primary Care Practices in Value-Based Care: Improving Primary and Specialty Care Collaboration within Federal Initiatives
Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 3:30 PM ET – 5:00 PM ET
This discussion, hosted by the Center for Health Care Strategies and funded by The Commonwealth Fund, will cover how state Medicaid agencies work with health plans and primary care providers to address health-related social needs in their communities through managed care and value-based payment models. 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.