Policy Update 3/7/22

By Cassidy Heit posted 03-15-2022 11:49


President Biden Highlights Health Centers During State of the Union

President Biden gave his State of the Union last week, and in the speech, the President announced a push to address behavioral health issues, previewed a new COVID strategy, and emphasized his commitment to lower drug prices. With the March 11, 2022 deadline to pass the FY22 budget quickly approaching, momentum to pass an omnibus bill rather than another continuing resolution is building. The Biden Administration requested $32.5 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine aid and to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is bipartisan support for supplemental funding for Ukraine; however, sticking points remain around defense appropriation spending and COVID-19 supplemental funding. President Biden’s FY23 budget proposal is also expected around March 8, 2022 but the release date could change.

Manchin Proposes a Scaled Down BBB Framework

This week, Senator Manchin announced provisions he could support for a budget reconciliation bill, which includes prescription drug savings, tax reform and climate change. Manchin stated that he wants funding for this bill to come from tax and drug pricing reform savings to balance increased costs of the social programs. Manchin’s BBB outline does not include health center capital funding or primary care workforce funding. 

OHCA Asks Providers to Help Prepare for End of PHE

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is encouraging SoonerCare beneficiaries to log into their accounts online to update information to avoid losing coverage when the public health emergency (PHE) expires.

During the PHE, Medicaid agencies have not been allowed to terminate coverage, but since PHE has been in effect, over 175,000 members have outstanding document requests. To help with those outstanding requests and avoid termination or a lapse in coverage, OHCA is encouraging members to:
  • ensure their login and password work.
    • If not, access account using a PIN.
    • If PIN is lost, call now for PIN reset. 
  • login to their accounts and update:
    • email addresses.
    • phone number.
    • income information.
    • address.
    • household information.
    • SSNs for babies born in the last 2 years.
    • any missing or outdated information.  
SoonerCare is also asking providers to help by updating patients' case information, renewing cases now instead of waiting for the renewal date, and encouraging members to access their online account. Some members may not have touched their case for 3-6 years due to passive renewal and PHE. This will help members avoid calling in at the same time and having a long wait period for PIN Reset. Their PIN number can also be found on the top right corner of any “DET letter.” 

CMS Vaccine Mandate - Phase Two Ends Next Week

Health centers in Oklahoma are expected to comply with “Phase Two” of the CMS vaccine mandate through March 15. To date, we have not heard of any CHCs who have been evaluated by an external body for their compliance with the CMS vaccine mandate. For more information on the CMS vaccine mandate in general, see the 1/14/22 CMS guidance and the CMS vaccine mandate toolkit. The toolkit is up to date, and the first page links to the slides and recording from a recent webinar from Colleen Meiman, PCA policy advisor.