What We’re Reading: HHS Updates Medicaid Policy; China Defends COVID-19 Reports; Public Health’s Immunization Messaging

HHS updated guidance for states using Medicaid managed care to manage nonmedical needs; anxieties surrounding new variants rise amidst underreported COVID-19 cases in China, which defended its counts; public health campaigns try new strategies to increase trust and promote immunizations.

States With Medicaid Managed Care Receive Updated HHS Guidelines

HHS released new guidelines detailing how states can assist beneficiaries in Medicaid managed care plans with health-related social needs. A letter to state Medicaid directors described the payment and reporting requirements to provide services through the “in lieu of services or settings” reimbursement process. HHS said the guidelines will support the health outcomes of enrollees by supporting social needs like food insecurity or unstable housing while maintaining their Medicaid coverage.

China Insists its COVID-19 Reporting Is Accurate Amidst Scrutiny

Following concerns from President Joe Biden and the World Health Organization (WHO), China vehemently claimed accuracy of its COVID-19 death counts, Reuters reported. Interviews of Chinese doctors on infection volume in some cities in China indicate that the reported data has been misleading regarding the gravity of the circumstances. Amidst the probable inaccuracies reported by China, The Washington Post detailed how these inaccuracies can contribute to incomplete data about new emerging variants, reducing global preparedness.

Public Health Agencies Strive to Build Trust, Combat Misinformation

US health departments at the state and local level are trying new tactics to educate the public about the efficacy of vaccines, amid continuing misinformation and false beliefs, reported Kaiser Health News. New messaging helped increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for example. The problem extends beyond COVID-19 as more parents opposed routine childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella in 2022 compared with 2019 (35% vs 23%). New public health campaigns aim to address immunization declines through strategies like using less-complex language that individuals find empowering in order to make their own decisions.

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