IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about the status of President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Supreme Court's ruling on an ACA case, and more.
Education, employment, housing, health care, and social context all play a role in an individual’s well-being, and it is through this lens that the Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) seeks to help those with substance use issues. In a Q&A, Amanda Latimore, the center’s director, discusses evidence-based approaches to addressing substance use, including opioids, and explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected treatment. (IMPAQ is an affiliate of AIR.) 
Partnerships between academic hospitals and nursing schools, community clinics, and other hospitals can help strengthen the nursing workforce, by facilitating clinical placement for students and increasing nursing school enrollment. However, evidence of these effects is limited. IMPAQ Health experts and colleagues recently conducted a study that takes a broader look at this issue, specifically how five academic hospitals and their partners aimed to increase the number of nurses in four different advanced specialties in multiple U.S. regions.
COVID-19 Updates. Although the widespread availability of vaccines has slowed the national death rate considerably, the United States still has the highest death toll worldwide, standing at over 600,000 lives lost. At the same time, daily vaccination rates in the United States are slowing, making it unlikely that the country will meet President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. While 14 states and Washington, D.C., have reached this milestone and others are expected to follow soon, some states have much lower rates and show little urgency to ramp up efforts.

  • Since the onset of the pandemic, many Americans have deferred or skipped care due to social distancing, loss of income, and decreased capacity among health care providers. PricewaterhouseCooper projects health care costs will increase by 6.5 percent in 2022 as Americans seek care that they previously put off.
ACA & Medicaid Expansion
Seven Supreme Court justices on Thursday ruled that the plaintiffs in the latest case challenging the ACA, California v. Texas, do not have standing to sue. This case marks the third Supreme Court challenge to the Obama administration’s health care law, following earlier cases in 2012 and 2015. If the high court had struck the law down, about 21 million Americans would have become uninsured, according to the Urban Institute. New York Times (6/17)
On June 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill to enact a public health insurance option in Nevada. Coverage in Nevada will begin in 2026, and the state plans to solicit bids from private insurance carriers and Medicaid managed care organizations. Besides Nevada, Washington is the only other state to offer a public option to its citizens. Healthcare Dive (6/10)
According to a recent report from HHS, approximately 31 million people now receive their health coverage through the ACA’s multiple provisions. The number of people enrolled in health insurance through the ACA marketplaces or expanded Medicaid programs increased by nearly 4 million between 2020 and 2021, suggesting that the ACA served as a safety net during a time when many Americans lost incomes or jobs due to the pandemic. Huffington Post (6/5)

  • IMPAQ health experts discussed the role of the ACA safety net during the pandemic in a blog post published in April 2020.
Less than a month after applications opened for coverage through Oklahoma’s expanded Medicaid program, over 100,000 people have already been approved for health benefits. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority projected that the program would expand eligibility to about 215,000 Oklahoma residents, meaning that nearly half of eligible beneficiaries have already enrolled. Oklahoma voters approved the expansion last year, and coverage will take effect July 1. AP News (6/11)
Medicare & Dually Eligible Beneficiaries
If Medicare decides to cover aducanumab, Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug, under Part B, it could double its annual prescription drug spending, and patients would likely have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for the medication. Biogen has said it will charge $56,000 per patient for the drug, and total annual spending on the drug could be $100 billion, most of which is likely to be covered by Medicare. There is no existing treatment for Alzheimer’s, and despite mixed evidence on aducanumab’s effectiveness, FDA approved the drug last week. Medicare tends to cover FDA-approved drugs. Vox (6/10)

According to a recent study in Health Affairs, Medicare Advantage enrollment rates among Black Americans and dually eligible individuals surpassed those of their white and non-dually eligible counterparts from 2009 to 2018. Enrollment of Black beneficiaries rose by 66 percent, and enrollment of dually eligible beneficiaries rose by 101 percent. The study suggests that the increased enrollment may be due to the increased availability of plans with zero premiums and Special Needs Plans, both of which provided coverage for a more diverse group of beneficiaries. Modern Healthcare (6/8)
Graphic of the Week
The push to vaccinate 70 percent of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4 continues. Experts at the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform have identified strategies to boost COVID-19 vaccine confidence by listening to and engaging with the public.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
The 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.
The Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation will share their research examining dually eligible individuals' perspectives on enrollment into integrated care programs. Speakers will discuss new findings, policy recommendations, and a toolkit guided by this research, as well as provide critical, person-centered insight into how to make enrollment into integrated care programs successful. 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.