IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about new COVID-19 vaccination milestones, concerns around vaccine hesitancy, price transparency guidance from CMS, and more.
How can governments, the medical community, and community- and faith-based organizations reach members of vulnerable groups who are the most in need of the COVID-19 vaccine but face the greatest challenges to getting it? Join White House Vaccinations Coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair, health care advocates, and representatives from state governments in a webinar at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 6 to discuss current vaccination efforts, as well as how to build trust and trustworthiness and consider strategies for future public health crises.
Adults with arthritis represent more than half of the people who use opioids in the United States. To help people who have arthritis-related disabilities and their health care providers work together to manage chronic pain, experts from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) have developed a collection of resources called Partnering for Better Chronic Pain Management and Safer Opioid Use. These resources include practical information on a variety of topics, including co-creating a chronic pain management plan, tips for distinguishing between opioid misuse and opioid use disorder, managing difficult conversations about opioid use, and helping people with disabilities access treatment for opioid use disorder. (IMPAQ is an affiliate of AIR.)
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout. Individuals ages 16 and older in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC announced on April 18 that almost 130 million people ages 18 or older across the U.S., representing 50.4 percent of the total adult population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • A Kaiser Health News analysis found that more women than men are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, with the highest gender gap occurring among those ages 25-34.

  • Pfizer announced on April 15 that its vaccine recipients will likely require a third dose in 6-12 months, as well as an annual COVID-19 immunization. Moderna released updated preliminary trial data showing that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at protecting against COVID-19 and more than 95 percent effective at protecting against severe disease up to six months after administration of the second dose.
Health Care Transparency and Value-Based Care
CMS issued new guidance to ensure group health plans and health insurers are compliant with current price transparency regulations, requiring them to upload files in formats “made available to the public without restriction that would impede the re-use of that information.” This new guidance comes after hospitals were found to have embedded code in their websites that prevented their price lists from appearing in search engine results. The guidance builds on an earlier rule intended to encourage price transparency by allowing consumers to compare costs and quality of care. Modern Healthcare (4/14)
President Biden signed the new Medicare Sequester Relief Act to extend the moratorium on Medicare sequestration through Dec. 31, 2021. The legislation suspends a 2 percent across-the-board cut to all Medicare fee-for-service payments, known as sequestration, until the end of 2021. McKnight Senior Living (4/15)
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and a DaVita Kidney Care affiliate finalized a new value-based care plan to provide more cost-effective kidney failure treatment to a new cohort of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. Patients with permanent kidney failure became eligible to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans for the first time in 2021. The new partnership reflects a growing trend among insurers to attempt to manage the costs of patients with chronic kidney disease. Modern Healthcare (4/12)
Health Equity in 2021
HHS announced $80 million in funding for navigators to help consumers enroll in health insurance plans through the Federal Marketplaces during 2022 open enrollment, an eightfold increase in funding compared to recent years. Navigators focus on connecting the uninsured and members of other vulnerable communities with health coverage and educating them on their options. HHS (4/21)
A recent Health Affairs blog highlights several innovative Medicaid models that aim to advance health equity. All of these Medicaid models provide coordinated and managed care to improve the health of specific populations. Health Affairs (4/14)
After years of debate among the tobacco industry, elected officials, civil rights groups, and health advocates, the FDA is reviewing a citizen petition to ban menthol cigarettes, which are disproportionately marketed to and consumed by members of the Black community. According to the CDC, Black men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the United States, even though smoking is less prevalent among Black Americans than white Americans. Menthol cigarettes are the last remaining flavor of cigarettes on the market. The Washington Post (4/20)
Graphic of the Week
Last week (April 11-17, 2021) was Black Maternal Health Week. The CDC reports that Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white mothers and that roughly 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Learn more about how the Black Mamas Matter Alliance is raising awareness, inspiring activism, and strengthening organizing for Black maternal health.
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
Foreign Policy at Brookings and the Embassy of Portugal will host a webinar on drug policy reform, trends in the United States and around the world, and lessons on drug reform policy from Portugal, a country that is widely considered a model of drug policy reform. Register here.
This webinar will dive into strategies to build awareness and amplify education around Medicaid health programs. Icario Health will review their own program results and the latest research findings from their partnership with the Harris Poll. Register here.
Substance use and historical trauma are intrinsically linked. Join Dialogue4Health for a panel discussion on addressing Historical Trauma as a critical factor in supporting those with substance use disorders. 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.