New CMS Guidance for Eventual End of PHE, Health Equity Initiative Announced


Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to state health officials aimed at assisting states in streamlining coverage determinations for federal programs, including the Marketplace, after the eventual conclusion of the public health emergency (PHE). The guidance builds on previously issued guidance and is intended, according to CMS, to ensure that individuals continue to have health coverage following the PHE. States were provided an Unwinding Toolkit and roadmap to restore routine eligibility and enrollment operations after the PHE, promote continuity of coverage, and facilitate transitions between federal programs (i.e. Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Basic Health Program, and the Marketplaces).

Main Stories:

  • CMS Innovation Center Launches New Initiative to Advance Health Equity
  • HHS-OIG Issues Advisory Opinion on App-based Motivational Incentives
  • State and National Initiatives for Transforming Crisis Care Through 988
  • MACPAC Holds March 2022 Meeting
  • White House Forum on Telehealth Equity and Broadband Access
  • Funding Opportunity Expiring Soon for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program

CMS Innovation Center Launches New Initiative to Advance Health Equity

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center (CMMI) announced that it will launch a health equity initiative. Specifically, CMMI plans to promote and incentivize equitable care in new and existing models by focusing recruitment on underserved populations, reexamining quality metrics, enhancing benefits, and considering changes to payment incentives. CMMI will also work to increase model participation of safety net providers, such as federally qualified health centers (FQHC), certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs), and rural health clinics. Additionally, CMMI assured stakeholders that it will improve data efforts by increasing data collection and stratifying race and ethnicity data.

HHS-OIG Issues Advisory Opinion on App-based Motivational Incentives

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently issued a favorable advisory opinion regarding contingency management, an evidence-based approach for treating substance use disorders that uses financial incentives to reward healthy behavior, such as abstinence and treatment retention. The OIG’s advisory opinion concluded that an app-based contingency management program developed by DynamiCare Health Inc., a digital therapeutics and telehealth company dedicated to helping people overcome addiction, will not incur a risk of sanctions under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and Beneficiary Inducement Prohibition (BIP). The National Council collaborated with DynamiCare Health to seek this ruling.

State and National Initiatives for Transforming Crisis Care Through 988

Join the National Council on March 14, 2022 at 4:00 PM EST for a special webinar on State and National Initiatives for Transforming Crisis Care Through 988. Guest speakers, led by President and CEO of the National Council, Chuck Ingoglia, will discuss the opportunities and challenges 988 poses for crisis care, as well as the growing body of 988 state-level legislation and the policy implications those bring. Also, the group will describe new initiatives within SAMHSA to support states in the rollout of 988 and outcomes from fifty 988 State Planning Grants that were administrated by Vibrant Emotional Health. Register today!

MACPAC Holds March 2022 Meeting

Last week, the Medicaid Access and Payment Advisory Commission (MACPAC) convened for its monthly public meeting. Of note, Commissioners generally supported staff recommendations regarding ways to increase behavioral health provider use of electronic health records (EHR). A number of Commissioners advocated for a fully integrated health information technology (IT) system, suggesting that behavioral health EHRs be a component of a larger, connected system of records among a wide range of providers. Also, Commissioners discussed aspects of the Medicaid program that can improve health equity and pointed to the need for better data collection efforts. Some commissioners highlighted community health centers as a successful model for addressing racial and ethnic disparities.

White House Forum on Telehealth Equity and Broadband Access

The White House Office of Public Engagement Health Equity Forum will hold a webinar on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at 12:00 PM EST to address the intersection of telehealth and broadband access. The webinar will feature experts from the White House staff and clinician researchers to discuss the efforts of the current administration on expanding access to care and the digital divide. To register for the webinar, click here.

Funding Opportunity Expiring Soon for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program

The application period for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Behavioral Health Care Support (RCORP-BHS) expires on April 19, 2022. The program’s goal is to improve access to and quality of substance use disorder and other mental health care services in rural communities. Specifically, improving rural behavioral health care may include increasing access to preventative care, treatment and recovery services. This opportunity is open to all domestic, public and private, non-profit and for-profit entities located in an urban or rural area. For more information and to apply, click here.


Nominations Open for Advocacy Leadership Awards. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is accepting nominations of individuals and organizations for their achievements in community, state and federal advocacy, as well as their public policy successes in ensuring access to services and supports for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges. For more information or to nominate yourself, an organization, or someone you know for an Advocacy Leadership Award, click here. The deadline to nominate is March 25 and awardees will be announced during Hill Day at Home on June 8.


ONDCP Releases Model Law for States to Increase Access to SUD Treatment. Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the release of a model state law that encourages states to use and establish deflection programs. Deflection programs are intended to connect individuals to mental health and substance use disorder services and treatment they need, lessening the burden on the criminal justice system. This model law authorizes law enforcement and first responders to develop and implement deflection programs as an alternative to incarceration. Such programs would offer pathways to treatment, recovery services, and medication assisted treatment, as well as strengthen relationships among community providers, first responders, and law enforcement.

House Hearing on Improving Retirement Security and Access to Mental Health Benefits. Last week the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on Improving Retirement Security and Access to Mental Health Benefits. Members and witnesses discussed the importance of mental health parity as well as findings of the recent 2022 MHPAEA Report to Congress for older adults. MHPAEA, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, prohibits discrimination of utilization of mental health and substance use services in certain health plans and by specific health insurers.

Guest Author

Mollie Laird
Associate, Federal Policy