UPDATE 01/15/18: Since I originally posted this, the deadlines for 2 more states have passed (CO & MN), and I have minor, non-final enrollment updates for MA, MN, DC & WA. Everything in this post has been updated accordingly, including the table below.
UPDATE 01/16/18: Updated table and writeup to include final Colorado numbers, which just came out today.
As I keep stressing, the 2018 Open Enrollment Period is still going on across 6 states4 states 3 states (+DC). Colorado's deadline is Friday night. Minnesota's is Sunday, followed immediately by Washington State on Monday. Eight days later, Massachusetts closes the books on the 23rd. Finally, eight days after that, OE5 officially ends for the last three state-based exchanges in California, DC and New York State.
UPDATE 1/13/18: Colorado's deadline passed last night, so we're now down to 5 states + DC: 79.9 million people, or roughly 24.5% of the population.
UPDATE 1/15/18: Minnesota's deadline passed last night, so we're now down to 4 states + DC: 74.3 million people, or roughly 23% of the population. (Note: I had a miscalculation in an earlier version of this post)
UPDATE 1/16/18: Washington State's deadline passed last night, so now we're down to 3 states + DC: 69 million people or roughly 20.6% of the population.
Happy New Year!
2018 Open Enrollment has officially (and unofficially) ended for 44 states.
HOWEVER...there are 6 other states, as well as the one in the District of Columbia, which have deadlines later than December 31st:
Colorado: Jan. 12th for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
Minnesota: Jan. 14th for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Plan Selection Totals for 2018 in Line with Target and Nearly Matching Longer 2017 Enrollment Period
DENVER — More than 165,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2018 through the state health insurance Marketplace by the close of Open Enrollment, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.
“These are positive results that show us holding steady and in line with our targets for the year,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson. “Despite the uncertainty that created some confusion in the market, we have seen volumes that nearly match last year’s longer Open Enrollment Period. I am happy to see so many families and individuals put this protection for their health and financial well-being in place for the year. We will be reporting our results in coming weeks in our annual End of Open Enrollment Report.”
Gov. Matt Bevin has issued an executive order that would strip Medicaid coverage from nearly half a million Kentuckians should his proposed overhaul of the federal-state health plan be struck down in court.
No one has filed a legal challenge to Bevin's changes to Kentucky's Medicaid program that federal authorities approved Friday.
But several advocacy groups have said some of the changes — such as requiring some "able-bodied" adults to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week — likely will be challenged in court because they violate federal law that establishes Medicaid purely as a health program and does not authorize work requirements.
Every quarter, Gallup posts the results of an exhaustive healthcare coverage survey (with over 25,000 U.S. adults). They just posted the latest update, which covers the fourth quarter of 2017, and the results are...striking.
Gallup has a rather annoying habit of not including the full Y-axis in their charts, so I've reformatted their quarterly survey results into a fuller version, noting a couple of key dates. The most obvious takeaway:
The U.S. uninsured rate among adults, which had reached 18% just before the major Affordable Care Act provisions (individual market exchanges and Medicaid expansion) kicked into effect, reached an all-time low of 10.9% last winter...
...only to reverse the trend since then, climbing back up again over the first year of the Trump Administration to end 2017 at 12.2%.
One important thing to keep in mind is that Gallup's surveys only include adults over 18, which means they only include about 77% of the population. Since children tend to have a much lower uninsured rate than adults (thanks in large part to programs like Medicaid and CHIP), this skews the results for the total population by several percentage points.
Over 2,500 people have watched my 17-minute 3-Legged Stool explainer video to date, and many have given it high praise (especially considering the utter lack of production value). However, there've been a few complaints about a couple of patches which are a bit slow or where the slides accompanying the audio are a bit confusing, so I've added some additional slides and reworked a few others to make it more clear. I've also noted the most significant update: That in the end, yes, the GOP did indeed repeal the Individual Mandate.
Later this week I hope to whip up a follow-up video which explains other recent developments, including how Silver Loading and the Silver Switcharoo worked to help salvage the 5th Open Enrollment Period; why the Alexander-Murray bill is no longer neccesary; what the doomed Collins-Nelson reinsurance bill was all about, and so forth.
With the big news this week about CMS giving work requirements the green light and Kentucky immediately jumping all over it, I decided to look up a few data points from some expansion states which don't include a work requirement for the heck of it:
Today, with one day left for people to sign up before the January 15th deadline, the Seattle Times reports that WA's tally is up to 234,000:
Washington state is on pace to increase the number of people with health insurance despite efforts by the Republican Congress and the Trump administration to gut the laws known as Obamacare that expanded insurance coverage across the nation.
*UPDATE: Some have accused me of hyperbole in the headline because a) it's a "state-approved health or financial literacy" course, not a "can you read" test and b) because it would only be required if they're unable to meet the requirements in other ways. I guess I can see their point, but it strikes me as splitting hairs:
First, "literacy course" was their wording, not mine (I guess there's a distinction between "completeing a course" and "passing a test"?).
Second, there doesn't appear to be any real description of the "courses" in question--how long it is, what the criteria for measuring "completion" is, who would be conducting the course, whether you'd have to attend classes in person (vs doing so online?), how many sessions there'd be and so forth. Here's the description as laid out in the waiver request itself:
...After trying — and failing — to get a high-profile lawsuit dismissed, Dave & Buster’s agreed to pay $7.425 million to settle the suit, which accused the restaurant and entertainment chain of illegally cutting staffers’ hours to prevent them from receiving healthcare benefits.
...As HR Morning covered previously, the ERISA lawsuit was the first case in which an employer was accused of intentionally interfering with employees’ hours to avoid the ACA’s employer mandate.
The lawsuit hinged on a very specific section of ERISA — the employees sued under ERISA Section 510.
Granted, ERISA was written primarily to apply to retirement plans. But Section 510 can be applied to a number of benefit plans as well — including healthcare coverage.
Section 510 says (the critical parts are in bold):
Whenever I write or talk about the 3-Legged Stool of the ACA and the actual flaws in the law (as opposed to the ones deliberately created by the GOP), I usually focus on two "gaps" in the legs: The APTC subsidies getting cut off at 400% FPL and being too stingy below that level, and the individual mandate not being large enough (and not being properly enforced). As it happens, part of the first problem has already been unintentionally "solved" thanks to Trump's ham-handed CSR reimbursement cut-off (which ended up increasing APTC tax credits for those below the 400% cut-off), while the second problem has just been made a whole lot worse thanks ot the GOP repealing the mandate altogether.
As shown, the tally as of 1/8/18 is 21,352 QHP selections, slightly below last year's 21,437 as of the same date. Since DC (along with California and New York) are sticking with the full 3-month Open Enrollment Period, it should provide a good apples-to-apples comparison (and the fact that very few DC enrollees have CSR assistance also means there's a nominal CSR loading impact, either).
The final, official DC ACA exchange tally last year was 21,248, so technically speaking they've already surpassed that figure...but again, it was 21,437 as of 1/8/17, which means there were at least a few hundred people who were dropped off at the tail end due to cancelling or non-payment of their first premium.
Last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that funding the CHIP program for 5 years, which they had previously estimated would increase the federal deficit by about $8 billion over the next decade, would instead only increase it by about 1/10th as much: Roughly $800 million, a rounding error when it comes to the federal budget. The reason for this isn't that funding CHIP had suddenly become less expensive, it was instead, ironically, because due to the GOP repealing the ACA's individual mandate starting in 2019, NOT funding CHIP has suddenly become more expensive.
CMS announces new policy guidance for states to test community engagement for able-bodied adults
Will support states helping Medicaid beneficiaries improve well-being and achieve self-sufficiency
CMS today announced new guidance that will support state efforts to improve Medicaid enrollee health outcomes by incentivizing community engagement among able-bodied, working-age Medicaid beneficiaries. The policy responds to numerous state requests to test programs through Medicaid demonstration projects under which work or participation in other community engagement activities – including skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving – would be a condition for Medicaid eligibility for able-bodied, working-age adults. This would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to a disability, elderly beneficiaries, children, and pregnant women.
In other words, work requirements for Medicaid expansion enrollees are now officially on the table.