National Minority Health Month: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Action to Address Health Disparities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

May 4, 2022
by Amy Lieberman, Blair Inniss and Erica White

National Minority Health Month was observed in April — which marked its 20th year — to emphasize and highlight initiatives aimed at improving health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups. This year, severe public health threats including the Covid-19 pandemic, opioid epidemic, high rates of substance abuse, and ongoing housing crises highlight the underlying disparities in U.S. health care and other policies, emphasizing the need to focus on these issues to achieve the best health outcomes for all.

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State Medicaid Programs Urgently Need to Prepare for the End of the COVID Public Health Emergency: These Tools and Resources Can Help

Law & Policy InsightsMedicaidHealth and Health CareCOVID-19 Resources

May 4, 2022
by Sarah Somers

The COVID 19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) has been in effect since January 28, 2020. The original declaration lasted 90 days and has been extended repeatedly – but it won’t last forever. And the end of the PHE is going to cause serious upheaval in state Medicaid programs. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been issuing guidance and toolkits to help states as they return to pre-pandemic enrollment and operations.

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Maryland Poised to Join Small Group of States Offering Comprehensive Adult Dental Coverage Through Medicaid

Law & Policy InsightsOral HealthHealth and Health CareMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 20, 2022
by Blair Inniss

Poor oral health is linked to several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. While states are required to provide dental benefits to children covered by Medicaid, they can choose whether to provide dental benefits to adults. A bill recently signed by Maryland’s Governor fills a gap in access to dental care for adults that has been missing in Maryland and is still missing in many other states across the country. The bill requires Maryland Medicaid to cover adult dental services, including diagnostic, preventive, restorative, and periodontal services.

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States, Preemption, and Patented Drug Prices

Law & Policy InsightsHealth and Health CareMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 20, 2022

Expensive prescription medications impose serious costs on patients and health systems alike. Yet, despite bipartisan support, Congress has been unable to pass prescription drug pricing reform. With federal legislation stalled, states remain a vibrant source of experimentation. Often, however, the most expensive medications are patented which raises complex legal questions for states.

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Biden Administration Executive Order Results in Long-Needed Update to SNAP Nutrition Benefits

Law & Policy InsightsFood SecurityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 20, 2022
by Mathew R. Swinburne

More than 13.8 million U.S. households lack the necessary food and nutrition to live an active and healthy life. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides financial benefits to qualified individuals that can be used to purchase food. These benefits are based on the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which was last revised in 2006. A January 2021 Biden Administration Executive Order urging the USDA to promptly update the TFP to reflect the current cost of food resulted in a 21 percent increase in SNAP benefits.

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Cultural Healing: A New (Old) Paradigm For Creating Healthy Communities

Law & Policy InsightsHealth and Health CareHealth ReformMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 7, 2022
by April Shaw

In the debate about how to incorporate cultural differences (which are often deeply intertwined with racial identity) into dominant social structures to create just outcomes, cultural healing often receives little attention. Cultural healing reconnects people to the vibrancy and strengths of their culture and in doing so, enhances health and wellness. However, embedding cultural healing practices will require legal reforms that institutionalize culturally inclusive practices.

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From Pandemic to Endemic: Legislative Oversight and Termination of Public Health Emergencies

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health AuthorityLegislation and Legal ChallengesEmergency Response

April 7, 2022

As we enter the third year of COVID-19, we are seeing the transition from a pandemic to an endemic. With this shift comes the staged termination of public health emergency measures used to respond to COVID-19 and its variants. Unknown is how our existing legal framework will bring about the end of the pandemic measures consistent with appropriate oversight by legislative and executive branches. New Mexico provides one example of what this transition might look like.

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Despite being Crucial to Reducing Health Disparities, Culturally-Relevant Health Care Programs Remain Poorly Funded

Law & Policy InsightsHealth and Health CareHealth ReformMedicaidEast Side Health and Well-Being Collaborative

March 24, 2022
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Cultural Broker programs provide culturally relevant, community-based, accessible, preventive health care that is crucial to reducing health disparities and decreasing costs. However, legal frameworks and reimbursement models often fail to capture the essence of community-oriented preventive models of care.

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Medicaid Programs Need to Prepare Now for the End of the COVID Public Health Emergency

Law & Policy InsightsHealth and Health CareHealth ReformMedicaid

March 24, 2022
by Jane Perkins

Barring a new COVID surge, all indications are that the Biden Administration will declare an end to the COVID public health emergency (PHE) sometime this year. Over the course of the pandemic, a PHE has been declared and extended at 90-day intervals. Unwinding of the PHE will be a critical event for Medicaid stakeholders.

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Policy Approaches for Improving Housing Affordability and Availability

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable HousingMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 10, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Financial disparities exist in a multitude of areas including home ownership, credit scores, and access to banking services; and are linked to health disparities in maternal and child health, mental health, and substance use disorders. Community organizations can play a role in reducing these disparities by providing financial education and planning, increasing access to banking services, and providing help for those who find themselves in the grip of predatory lenders and payday loans.

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How Community Organizations Can Help Address Financial Inequities and Predatory Lending Practices

Law & Policy InsightsEast Side Health and Well-Being CollaborativeMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 8, 2022
by Carrie Waggoner

Financial disparities exist in a multitude of areas including home ownership, credit scores, and access to banking services; and are linked to health disparities in maternal and child health, mental health, and substance use disorders. Community organizations can play a role in reducing these disparities by providing financial education and planning, increasing access to banking services, and providing help for those who find themselves in the grip of predatory lenders and payday loans.

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