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  • Washington Highlights

    MACPAC Discusses Medicaid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Andrew Amari, Hospital Policy and Regulatory Specialist

    The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) met on April 2 via webcast to discuss Medicaid’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Commission staff members presented on available Medicaid authorities and Medicaid’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including use of state plan amendments, blanket and state-specific Section 1135 waivers, Section 1115 waivers, and Section 1915(c): Appendix K waivers. They noted that Medicaid has provided template lists for Section 1135 requests that waive provisions relating to Medicaid prior authorizations, provider enrollment, and long-term services and supports — as of April 2, 41 states have approved Section 1135 waivers.

    Additionally, Medicaid has published several guidance and FAQ documents related to COVID-19 covered services and benefits, as well as guidance for states on the 6.2 percentage point federal medical assistance percentage increase recently passed through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127) [see Washington Highlights, Mar. 20].

    During the discussion, commissioners expressed a desire to reiterate MACPAC’s previous comments urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services not to implement the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule, noting the rule would exacerbate the unprecedented access issues created during the pandemic [see Washington Highlights, Mar. 27, Jan. 31]. Commissioners also agreed the pandemic has highlighted existing physician workforce shortages, and several commissioners suggested that Medicaid should consider reimbursement parity with Medicare for payments to primary care physicians to potentially address workforce concerns.