IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about COVID-19’s widespread impacts, updates on vaccination efforts and efficacy, new ACA subsidies, and more. 
After declining for years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of food insecurity is once again on the rise, particularly among school-aged children. Food insecurity during childhood can have negative effects on development and health outcomes later in life. In a new blog post, IMPAQ experts explore the issue of children and food insecurity during the pandemic, as well as examine some of the efforts to mitigate hunger.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected patients’ feelings about receiving health care services in person, resulting in many delaying in-person preventive care. The latest results from an American Institutes for Research (AIR) study into this issue give policymakers and providers insights into what might make patients feel more comfortable receiving in-person health care services and the COVID-19 vaccine. (IMPAQ is an affiliate of AIR.)
COVID-19 Cases and Variants. According to a recent report from the CDC, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020. COVID-19 mortality rates among people of color were more than double that of their non-Hispanic, white counterparts. Cases of coronavirus variants are also rising across the United States. In variant news:

COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Updates. All 50 states plan to fully expand vaccination eligibility to the general public by May 1, if not earlier in many cases. With more and more Americans receiving vaccines, new guidelines from the CDC permit fully vaccinated people to travel without testing or self-quarantining. The Biden administration is considering options for “vaccine passports” that will allow Americans to provide proof of vaccination as businesses reopen and travel resumes.

  • Preliminary data from a Pfizer study shows that the vaccine is safe and effective in children as young as 12. Study participants also showed high levels of antibodies in response to the vaccine. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized only for ages 16 and older.

Health Coverage Updates
As part of his larger jobs and infrastructure plan, President Biden proposes to expand access to home and community-based care services covered by Medicaid. The expansion would improve service delivery for people with disabilities and aging adults who receive their care outside of institutions, as well as increase wages for home health care workers. Modern Healthcare (3/31)
Nearly all Americans with insurance coverage through are eligible for increased premium savings as part of the American Rescue Plan. The administration is encouraging all Americans who are currently enrolled or eligible for a plan on the federal marketplace to go back to the site and review the new subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the subsidies, which took effect April 1, will help 1.3 million uninsured Americans become covered over the next two years. The New York Times (4/1)
Widespread Impacts of the Pandemic
According to recent meta-analysis published in the Lancet of 40 studies across 17 countries, more pregnant women died, experienced pregnancy complications, or delivered stillborn infants in 2020 compared with previous years, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The evidence suggests that this may have been due to overwhelmed health care systems and from women delaying care because they feared contracting COVID-19 at hospitals and clinics. The New York Times (3/31)
About 1 in 5 U.S. adults chose to forgo health care services over the past year because of concerns about cost, a new survey from West Health and Gallup finds. Members of low-income households were especially likely to skip care because of the pandemic’s impact on their finances. Modern Healthcare (3/31)
According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was a 27 percent rise in drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in August 2020 compared with the previous year. The Biden administration plans to address the upward trend by expanding access to treatment and recovery support services, such as by removing barriers that prevent doctors from prescribing buprenorphine, a medication-assisted treatment for opioid misuse. NPR (4/1)
According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post, a majority of frontline health care workers report that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health. Eight out of 10 workers were concerned about exposing themselves or others in their household to COVID-19. However, the survey results also show a recent increase in optimism among respondents, with a majority of workers saying they feel hopeful or motivated when going to work these days. Kaiser Family Foundation (4/6)
Graphic of the Week
The National Institute for Health Care Management provides an update on vaccine distribution and hesitancy, as many states expand eligibility to anyone over the age of 16. The CDC estimates that as of April 6, more than 30 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
This webinar, made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will explore practical strategies to assess and address hunger needs faced by families during the pandemic and beyond, including leveraging early childhood systems and the Help Me Grow system model to address child food insecurity. It will highlight innovative solutions used in Vermont and Washington State, with examples from federal, state, and community-level resources. Register here.
This webinar, made possible by The Commonwealth Fund, will explore how states and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) can partner to support team-based primary care and meaningfully advance states’ health equity goals. The 60-minute event will focus on: (1) creating a team-based care approach at the provider level; and (2) using MCO contracts to support and encourage team-based care. 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.