Hispanics Experience Significant Coverage Gains Though Uninsurance Rate Remains High

The uninsurance rate among Hispanics has dropped 10.4 percentage points since 2013, the largest drop among "key subgroups" (defined as whites, blacks, and Hispanics) in a new Gallup survey. Despite these gains, 28% of Hispanics remained uninsured in the first quarter of 2016, the largest of any subgroup. The uninsurance rate among blacks dropped 9.5 percentage points to 11% while the national uninsurance rate reduced by 6.1 percentage points to 11%. The survey's accompanying report notes that the larger declines for blacks and Hispanics partly reflect higher uninsured rates prior to the ACA.

Marketplace Coverage Remains Unaffordable for Some, New Report Finds

Many Marketplace enrollees struggle to afford their premiums and out-of-pocket costs despite the availability of cost sharing subsidies, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. One-third of those with Marketplace coverage reported difficulty paying their premium, compared to 17% of those with employer-sponsored coverage. The report cites increased enrollment assistance via navigators or social workers, and improved health literacy as two strategies that can help enrollees select plans that more appropriately balance premiums and deductibles. The authors note that improving the affordability of Marketplace plans is necessary to maintain the coverage gains made to date.

New CMS Guidance Seeks to Improve Access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

CMS released an information bulletin identifying reimbursement strategies state Medicaid agencies can use to improve access and utilization of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). The bulletin reviews strategies in 14 states for mitigating the challenges of LARC reimbursement, which include: provide comprehensive patient-centered coverage for the provision of contraceptive services; raise reimbursement rates for contraceptive devices; reimburse for immediate postpartum insertion of LARC separate from other labor and delivery services; address supply chain management issues; and remove administrative barriers. The bulletin also provides examples of best practice payment and policy strategies in Illinois, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

CMS Extends Medicaid Access Monitoring Review Plan Deadline

CMS is revising the deadline for submission of states' access monitoring review plan until October 1, 2016. Under the final access rule published in November, states are newly required to submit an access monitoring review plan to document if Medicaid payments are sufficient to assure access for beneficiaries to primary care services, physician specialist services, behavioral health services, pre- and post-natal obstetric services, and home health services. CMS is extending the deadline from July 1, 2016 in order to provide states more time to develop robust review plans.