News, MSDC Statements, and MSDC Testimony on Health Equity Issues
24th Council session information coming soon.
Mayor Bowser Issues Emergency Order Addressing MedStar's MCO Status
On Wednesday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an emergency order ordering the Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services to address the contractual dispute that would see MedStar not accept non-emergency Medicaid patients.
The order, seen here, directs Deputy Mayor Wayne Turnage to, "take such actions and implement such measures as may be necessary or appropriate to protect the health and safety of persons in the District of Columbia". The basis of the emergency order is the ongoing pandemic public emergency.
MedStar Family Choice was one of three insurers chosen for the District's managed care contract in 2020. However, a contract protest led to MedStar's removal as one of the MCOs this year. In August, MedStar informed the other two MCOs that it was terminating its contract with them, meaning Medicaid and Alliance beneficiaries would not have in-network access to MedStar facilities except for emergency room admissions. The Mayor's order in essence would extend that MedStar MCO contract for nine months past the September expiration date.
On Thursday, MSDC joined the DC Hospital Association, DC Primary Care Association, DC Behavioral Health Association, and DC Health Care Association in a joint letter to the Mayor and Council. The letter does not take a position on the contract dispute but rather urges both branches of government to work together on a long-term solution. The letter states:
We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s more important than ever to make certain there is no disruption for Medicaid beneficiaries and District residents who need access to all the essential primary, specialty and hospital care services and related support services. As the City’s largest group of health care providers, we recognize firsthand the lingering impact and negative consequences that limited access and delayed care can have on a patient’s health outcome. We can ill afford to create any barriers that will interfere with current or future health care visits, screenings, procedures, hospitalizations, or other necessary services. All patients, regardless of their health care plans, must have access to health care services when and where they need them. We must remain committed to addressing health care inequity and reduce barriers to care, not increase them.
The Deputy Mayor's office recently shared it is exploring reopening the contracting process to add substance abuse and behavioral health services to the contract. MSDC is planning a webinar on the ongoing MCO process and will share details when it becomes available.
Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC Tracked
What does it say? The bill allows for the administration of medicinal marijuana in schools as well as allows students to bring sunscreen to schools and apply it without a prescription.
MSDC position: MSDC supports the language permitting sunscreen application in schools
Current status: A win for DC physicians and public health! The legislation passed the Council in February and was signed by the Mayor. Previous temporary and emergency legislation permitted students to use sunscreen at schools this school year already.
What does it say? The bill requires DC Health to establish an electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment registry (eMOST).
MSDC position: MSDC supports this legislation to more easily allow patients to make their treatment orders known.
Current status: A win for the physician community and our patients! The Council passed the bill in December and the Mayor signed it into law on January 16, 2020.
What does it say? The bill would implement a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on the distribution of "sugary" beverages. The money collected from the tax would establish a Healthy People, Healthy Places Open Spaces Grant Program.
MSDC position: MSDC sent a letter to Council Chair Mendelson asking for a hearing to discuss all of the issues around a beverage tax.
Current status: The bill was introduced October 8, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development and the Committee of the Whole.