Dr. Charissa Fotinos, Medicaid Director at the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) kicked off the 2022 Inland Northwest State of Reform Policy Conference by discussing the agency’s top health insurance priorities.
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Fotinos oversees the Apple Health program, which serves over 2 million Washingtonians. She said HCA is currently working to expand the program. Earlier this year, the legislature directed HCA to establish a similar plan that would cover people who are not eligible for federal programs or qualified health plans, she said.
“It will mirror Apple Health where it can,” Fotinos said. “There may be some things that are carved out, like dental, which is currently the case. We hope to have that program up and running by January 2024. The process as to how we will go forward with the procurement for that is still under a little bit of discussion. But we should have some straightforward direction and [a] plan that we can share with all of you in the next couple weeks.”
Fotinos also discussed the upcoming end of the federal Public Health Emergency.
“The best we know, that’s going to happen in January,” she said. “That will be 400,000 people transitioning, if things stay the way we anticipate now, who have not had to renew or had to pay premiums if they were in certain groups. That will end. We plan to do that unwinding over 12 months so it will be a steady renewal process each month. We’ve been planning for this, along with many other states, for months. We’ve been working with our partners at the Health Benefit Exchange to make sure that folks who may have aged out of Apple Health who are now eligible for Medicare, or for people who may lose their Apple Health coverage, are now connected to the Health Benefit Exchange to see if they are eligible for a qualified plan.”