Understanding the Future of COVID-Related Medicare and Medicaid Flexibilities

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of Medicare and Medicaid regulatory flexibilities were implemented to help ensure access to care through expanded eligibility and enrollment, remote service delivery, alternative care sites, and more. Recognizing the programs’ critical roles in increasing access to care, federal policymakers approved funding to expand flexibilities over the course of the public health emergency (PHE). The two programs spent over 1.5 trillion dollars on health care services for nearly 140 million beneficiaries in 2020. While the U.S. health care system as it stands is under-prepared for the complexity of caring for a diverse and varied population of older adults and people with disabilities, the pandemic-era flexibilities resulted in the testing of different delivery models and offer the opportunity to generate evidence on their opportunities and challenges.

As policymakers and health care leaders prepared for the unwinding of these flexibilities when the PHE ultimately ends, they had the unique opportunity to assess their impact and consider making some policies permanent. In particular, flexibilities that create a more equitable future for the well-being of all populations with complex care needs may warrant further evaluation. This event helped the audience understand the current policy landscape shaping Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as principles of person- and community-centered care. Speakers discussed lessons learned from the PHE, including insights from recent research and on-the-ground experts, and highlight policy levers available to state and federal policymakers to potentially build upon these current flexibilities. Experts also explored remaining unknowns as well as possible unintended consequences of these tradeoffs.

This event included insights from from the “Moving Toward More Person-Centered Medicare and Medicaid Programs” Issue Brief and Policymaker Playbook.


  • Stephanie Anthony, J.D., MPH, Senior Advisor, Manatt Health
  • Jonathan Gonzalez-Smith, MPAff, Research Associate, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Lisa Hayes, Co-Chair of Long Term Services Sub-Committee, National Council for Independent Living
  • Jennifer Podulka, MPAff, Principal, Health Management Associates
  • Robert Saunders, Ph.D., Research Director, Payment and Delivery Reform Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Hemi Tewarson, J.D., MPH, Executive Director, National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)
  • Sarah J. Dash, MPH, President and CEO, Alliance for Health Policy (moderator)

This event was organized by the Alliance for Health Policy in partnership with Health Management Associates (HMA) and Manatt Health Strategies (Manatt Health), with generous support from The SCAN Foundation.