Health Innovation Highlights: May 14, 2020

Full Edition


Center Recommendations for Next Federal COVID-19 Response

The Center released a one-page overview of our recommendations for policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on what’s needed to protect low-income older adults and people with disabilities, as well as Black Americans and other people of color facing alarming and highly disproportionate rates of infection and death in states throughout the country.

At Community Catalyst and the Center, we are working with partners at all levels to educate and influence decision makers on their development of the next federal package of policies to address COVID-19 and to focus on the needs of these populations. On May 12, the House of Representatives released its HEROES bill which is a step in the right direction in addressing some, but not all, of Community Catalyst’s recommendations.

Make the Road New York Advocates Take Demand of #Recovery4All to Gov. Cuomo’s Office


Video by Nick Curran and Elliot Levy

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting immigrant, Black and brown communities hardest. Often considered essential workers, they are on the frontlines delivering food, packing boxes in warehouses, and cleaning and caring for the sick without protective equipment. The federal stimulus has excluded millions of people in these comunities from obtaining needed financial relief and so far New York state’s response has also been inadequate.

Wasting no time, our  partners at Make the Road New York (MRNY) organized and led a caravan to Gov. Cuomo’s office demanding a #Recovery4All for New York. Their demands include a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers' Fund, cancellation of rent during the crisis in unemployment, and releasing incarcerated and detained community members at heightened risk for COVID-19. In addition to hosting a mariachi band in front of Cuomo's office, MRNY performed a ceremonial die-in in Times Square. Click the image above or this link to see the full video.

In related news from MRNY, they and their ally Hester Street just released a new report about the impacts of the COVID crisis on working-class immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers. As the only survey to date focused on the experiences of immigrant New Yorkers reported in their own words, the quantitative and qualitative data provide powerful insights into the scale of this crisis on this community.

Among their top findings: 92 percent of households surveyed reported loss of income, but only 5 percent had received unemployment benefits in the last month. The report also includes four recommendations to address this suffering: provide relief to immigrant workers excluded from federal stimulus, cancel rent, depopulate prisons and detention centers, and expand healthcare access. For more details and to download the report, click here.

New Family Caregiver Resources

Last month, the Center partnered with the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office and the Lewin Group to present Supporting Family Caregivers of Older Adults through Times of Stress and Isolation. The webinar, which is now available for playback after providing registration information, has been viewed by over 4,000 participants. It offers strategies for supporting caregivers and their loved ones, up-to-date information on facilitating access to health and social supports from which caregivers might benefit, and practical tips for addressing the specific needs of caregivers experiencing social isolation and stress-related conditions.

The webinar was part of the part of the Geriatric-Competent Care series, which helps providers in all settings and disciplines expand their knowledge and skills related to the unique aspects of caring for older adults and working with their caregivers. 

On this topic The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP have released a research report, "Caregiving in the U.S. 2020."

Massachusetts Partner Mobilizes Older Adult Activists Remotely


Nothing – not COVID-19, technology challenges or stay-at-home orders – will stop our partners at the Massachusetts Seniors Action Council (MSAC) from organizing and empowering its members to collectively address key public policy and community issues that affect their health and well-being. MSAC worked tirelessly to gear up for their first statewide Zoom meeting, in which almost 80 participated. Click the image above or this link to truly be inspired. "We don't take it. We take charge!"

Community Catalyst Partners with NORC on Medicaid Managed Care Organization Learning Hub 

Community Catalyst is pleased to announce its partnership with the non-partisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago on the Medicaid Managed Care Organization Learning Hub. The MCO Learning Hub is a resource for information and best practices to support MCOs in working toward a more integrated approach for meeting their members’ needs and improving their health. The Learning Hub recently released “Medicaid Managed Care Response to COVID-19,” an issue brief providing examples of how MCOs and states can provide assistance through effective communications, improved access, data analysis and use of available financial levers. . 

Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative Receives Award for Community Outreach

Congratulations to our partners at the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, who have been recognized as one of Maryland's 2020 Health Care Heroes by The Daily Record, a statewide business and legal newspaper which  is highlighting organizations and individuals who have made an impact on the quality of health care within the state. Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative will be honored in a virtual ceremony as a Community Outreach/Education Hero.

Center Blog  Series Continues to Focus on Populations at Heightened Risk Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Since our April edition of Health Innovation Highlights was published, the Center has continued writing a series of blog posts on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on populations we at the Center have consistently made a focus of our work. Please  give these a read  for the background and recommendations they contain: .

Who Are the Most At-Risk Older Adults In the COVID-19 Era? It’s Not Just Those in Nursing Homes

Who Are the Most At-Risk Older Adults In the COVID-19 Era? It’s Not Just Those in Nursing Homes

Who Are the Most At-Risk Older Adults In the COVID-19 Era? It’s Not Just Those in Nursing Homes by Research Director Marc Cohen

COVID-19 is Leaving Home Health Workers and Consumers with Long-Term Care Needs in Jeopardy by Program Associate Siena Ruggeri

At Greater Risk: Food Insecurity During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Program Coordinator Julia Watson

Elevating the Needs of Medicare-Medicaid Beneficiaries in the COVID-19 Era by Project Manager/Senior Policy Analyst Leena Sharma

COVID-19 Brings New Urgency to Protecting People with Chronic Conditions by Program and Policy Coordinator Madison Tallant

Additionally, since it’s Older Americans Month, we revisit Aging Out Loud: From Generation to Generation by Deputy Director Renée Markus Hodin, which highlights a father and daughter whose stories epitomize the spirit of perseverance and determination that marks the contributions older adults in our country.


Survey: Over Half of Older Adults in the U.S. Have Experienced Disruptions in Care Due to Coronavirus 

The John. A Hartford Foundation and The SCAN Foundation have released the results of a recent survey of older adults on how they are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that more than half of all adults in the United States age 70 and older have experienced a disruption in their medical care during the first month of social distancing. While an overwhelming majority of older adults are prepared to self-isolate for several months, many are experiencing increased loneliness. The survey presents valuable insights into the future of person-centered care for older adults amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Integrating Care for Dually Eligible Individuals Matters Even More in the Face of COVID-19 

The Center for Health Care Strategies recently interviewed Melanie Bella, chief of new business and policy at Cityblock Health and current chair of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), on the importance of moving forward with integrated care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dually eligible individuals are at the highest risk for COVID-19 complications, and a more integrated care network ensures they can more easily access the services they need. The care coordination aspect of integrated care is essential for people with complex needs during a public health emergency.  

Primary Care as a Bulwark Against COVID-19: How Three Innovative Practices Are Responding 

A new resource from the Commonwealth Fund profiles three primary care practices that are implementing new care delivery models and tools to more effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These providers are benefiting from new payment flexibilities that have reduced their reliance on the fee-for-service model. The practices’ strategies include utilizing telehealth technology to reach patients experiencing homelessness; remote monitoring for patients with COVID-19, hypertension, heart failure and diabetes; and developing an algorithm to identify and reach out to the highest risk patients. In their response to COVID-19, these primary care providers have built stronger structures for future emergencies and made their current care more person-centered. 

State Approaches to Family Caregiver Education, Training and Counseling 

In the current public health crisis, family caregivers are crucial to ensure people with complex needs continue to have access to the long-terms services and supports they need. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has released a report on the supports available to family caregivers through state Medicaid home- and community-based waivers and state plan amendments. The report found that twenty-four states include education, training and counseling for family caregivers, with large variances in caregiver eligibility requirements.

Assessing the Capacity of Local Social Services Agencies to Respond to Referrals From Health Care Providers 

Health Affairs dedicated its April 2020 issue to the integration of social services and health. It includes new research into social service agency capacity to respond to referrals from health care providers. As health care providers are increasingly screening for social needs, it remains to be seen if social service agencies have the necessary resource to adequately respond to referrals. The study found that many high-prevalence needs such as housing and transportation continued to go unmet .



The California Department of Health Care Services  announced it will postpone the implementation of the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative in order to focus on COVID-19. CalAIM is a multi-year initiative to improve the state’s Medicaid system for vulnerable populations. The major components of CalAIM build upon the successful outcomes of various pilots, including the Coordinated Care Initiative.

New Jersey

In response to the pandemic, late last month, New Jersey announced $24 million in state and federal resources for temporary wage increases for the direct support professionals who care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in group homes and supervised apartments. The state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) will implement a temporary, three-month $3.00 per hour wage increase for these professionals, . DHS also announced guidance requiring hospitals to allow a designated support person to accompany an individual with a disability during a hospitalization, despite visitor restrictions.

In other news, ROI-NJ reported on April 20 that New Jersey’s four Regional Health Hubs each received a grant to support projects to test, provide health care and stop the spread of COVID-19 as part of a series of grants being awarded by the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. The article breaks down what each hub will do:

  • Camden Coalition: will provide support for the Camden testing site; leverage its Health Information Exchange platform to track results and patients; and provide telemedicine support to homeless shelters;
  • Health Coalition of Passaic County: will support the establishment of walk-up testing sites; support telemedicine for uninsured community members; and provide quarantine space for those at Straight and Narrow and Eva’s Village;
  • Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition: will help pregnant women in Newark by creating “Mom Kits” with blood pressure cuffs and thermometers; and create a virtual platform to provide postpartum and lactation support for new moms.
  • The Trenton Health Team: will support the Mercer County Testing site; and provide technical support to organizations rolling out telehealth programs in conjunction with the Henry J. Austin Health Center.

New York

On May 11, the New York State Department of Health submitted an emergency waiver extension request for $2.75 billion related to flexibilities needed for its response to the COVID-19 crisis. Under the waiver request, the state has requested funds to make three key investments: (1) Emergency Capacity Assurance; (2) Rapid Facility Conversion; and (3) Regional Coordination and Workforce Development. If this emergency request is approved, funds will be disbursed directly to providers through an application process. In its request, DOH also requested an extension for up to twelve-months the current terms and conditions in its Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) Waiver. New York’s current 1115 waiver is set to expire on March 31, 2021.


Monday, May 18 (1-2:30 pm Eastern) - Webinar: Supporting the Behavioral Health Workforce During the COVID-19 Response: Strategies for Providers to Sustain and Strengthen the Behavioral Health System, presented by Health Management Associates. Please register for the webinar.

Tuesday, May 19 (1-2 pm Eastern) - Webinar: Complex Care and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Rural and Frontier Environments, presented by the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs. Please register for the webinar.

Wednesday, May 20 ( – 2-3:30 p.m. Eastern) - Webinar: Ensuring Linguistic Competence in Person-Centered Practices and Systems, presented by The National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems (NCAPPS). Please register for the webinar.

Wednesday, May 20 (2-3:30 pm Eastern) - Webinar: COVID-19 and the Impact on Communities of Color: Our Nation’s Inequities Exposed, presented by Trust for America’s Health. Please register for the webinar.

Thursday, May 21 (3-4 pm Eastern) - Virtual Roundtable: Communities Respond to COVID-19: Implications for Asian Pacific Islanders, presented by National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED). Please register for the webinar.

Monday, June 8 (1-2 pm Eastern) - Webinar: Long-Term Care in the Time of COVID-19: Caring for Recipients, Protecting the Workforce and Supporting Provider Sustainability, presented by Manatt Health. Please register for the webinar.

Tuesday, June 16 (1-2 pm Eastern) - Webinar: Long-Term Care After COVID-19: Building a Stronger System, presented by Manatt Health. Please register for the webinar.