ACAP Plans Provide Direct Support for the Safety Net During COVID-19

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jeff Van Ness, (202) 204-7515,

ACAP Plans Provide Direct Support for the Safety Net During COVID-19

A new survey shows how Safety Net Health Plans have doubled down on their efforts to provide direct assistance to people with low incomes and complex health care needs to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was released today by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP).

Safety Net Health Plans, which serve more than 20 million low-income, high-need enrollees—more than one-third of all people in Medicaid managed care—have relaxed prior authorization requirements for hospitalizations and prescription drugs, and provided direct operational assistance to community-based medical providers, including support for telehealth. Plans are also bracing for an expected surge in Medicaid enrollment.

“Safety Net Health Plans exist to serve populations that are especially vulnerable during a pandemic, and have stepped up accordingly,” said ACAP CEO Margaret A. Murray.  “From food and housing to personal protective equipment, our plans have tailored their support to meet the specific needs of their members and communities.”

The survey, conducted among ACAP’s 77 members in May and June 2020, found that:

  • 8 in 10 plans have relaxed prior authorization requirements for either prescription drugs or hospitalizations.
  • Two-thirds have given operational assistance to their providers, and 25 percent have given financial assistance to help providers move to telehealth.
  • More than three quarters have programs to address social isolation, such as calls and chats to check in with members, especially elderly dual-eligible members.
  • More than half are providing non-medical services or goods they normally would not provide, such as housing in hotels for members who need to self-isolate, home monitoring equipment, or cash assistance to purchase disinfectants or wipes.
  • Some plans are paying for Meals on Wheels for members for whom they ordinarily would not support meal delivery.

90 percent say they expect enrollment in Medicaid to surge, varying with community economic conditions, from 5 to 23 percent.

63 percent of respondents said their medical loss ratios will be less than 85 percent for 2020, but more than 90 percent also expect a surge in utilization at the end of the pandemic owing to pent-up demand; however, some plans have indicated that they expect mid-year rate cuts, which would raise their medical loss ratios if implemented.

A summary of the report’s results is available here.

About ACAP:
ACAP represents 77 health plans, which collectively provide health coverage to more than 20 million people. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly-sponsored health programs. For more information, visit

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