The American Rescue Plan: What Nebraska can do for our health
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) helps health care be more accessible and affordable by lowering the cost of coverage for many Nebraskans and provides states additional opportunities to improve the health of its communities. ARPA offers states millions of dollars in federal funding to tackle COVID-19 and promotes options to increase health care coverage for a variety of Nebraskans.
Nebraska should take advantage of these federal funds and opportunities to promote the health and wellbeing of all Nebraskans.
Additional Federal Funding Available NOW
COVID-19 Coverage: Federal funds can be used to pay for 100% of the costs of health care coverage for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines for certain uninsured Nebraskans. Taking up this option would provide an influx of federal funds into the state and would cover necessary care for tens of thousands of uninsured Nebraskans, keeping our communities healthy.
Nebraska can take up this option administratively by submitting a simple emergency state plan amendment to its Medicaid State Plan. This option is available now through one year after the end of the public health emergency, which will likely continue through 2021.
Home and Community Based Services: Over $48 Million in federal funding is available to Nebraska to provide additional services or fund expenditures under Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers. Nebraska can use these funds to improve HCBS care in Nebraska to do things like provide services to the thousands of Nebraskans waiting on waiver waitlists or raise provider rates for HCBS workers, among other things.
Nebraska has until July 12, 2021 to submit its plan for spending the additional HCBS funds available through ARPA and is still accepting feedback from HCBS stakeholders on how to use these funds.
Medicaid Options Beginning April 2022
ARPA created new options for states to leverage Medicaid to address critical community health needs. Both of the following options can be taken up administratively by the state of Nebraska for five years starting in April 2022.
Postpartum Coverage: ARPA permits states to extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage from sixty days postpartum to twelve months postpartum. Poor maternal health is a significant problem in the United States, where maternal deaths have been increasing since 2000. Many of these deaths are preventable and disproportionately impact women of color. Typically, Nebraskans eligible for Medicaid under the pregnancy eligibility category can only access health care services through Medicaid for sixty days after the birth of their child. However, the need for postpartum care does not end after sixty days. Significant health issues can present beyond the sixty day period, and if left untreated, these health issues can harm Nebraska families.
Crisis Response Funding: Under ARPA, states have the opportunity to provide community mobile crisis intervention services to address mental health or substance use disorder crises. These services can help provide timely and appropriate care in times of crisis while reducing encounters with and the workload of law enforcement. This program is funded with 85% federal funds for the first three years of the program.
ARPA offers many opportunities to the State of Nebraska to improve the health of our communities. Nebraska should leverage these opportunities to continue our work towards making quality, affordable health care more accessible for all Nebraskans.
What can Nebraska do for your health?
Our work is driven by hearing from Nebraskans like you. How will the American Rescue Plan impact your access to health care? Your voice makes a difference in ensuring that all Nebraskans have access to quality, affordable health care. Tell us how you want your health care to look.