Connecticut lawmakers are joining other states that have unveiled proposals to expand government-run health coverage, with plans to extend state health benefits to small businesses and nonprofits, and to explore a public option for individuals.
Under two measures announced Thursday, officials would open the state health plan to nonprofits and small companies – those with 50 or fewer employees – and form an advisory council to guide the development of a public option. The legislation would allow the state to create a program, dubbed “ConnectHealth,” that offers low-cost coverage to people who don’t have employer-sponsored insurance.
HB 436 passed on the House floor by a vote of 40-24 on Thursday afternoon. The bill would bring New Mexico's state law dealing with pre-existing conditions into line with federal law.
Rep. Liz Thomson, the bill's sponsor, says health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is already protected under the federal Affordable Care Act. She wants New Mexico's state law to do the same.
"Because before the Affordable Care Act came along, insurance companies could discriminate based on gender, they charge women more, and on pre-existing conditions," Thomson said.
Last year, Republican Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin, who had campaigned heavily on a promise to repeal ACA Medicaid expansion altogether, partly changed his tune once he actually took office. Instead of kicking all 450,000 low-income Kentucky residents off the program completely, he first imposed an absurdly insulting and cumbersome "frequent flyer"-style program:
Kentucky is moving closer to an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program Bevin has said is aimed at controlling costs and encouraging more personal responsibility in consumers, changes that include elimination of basic dental and vision benefits for most "able-bodied" adults who instead would have to earn them through a "rewards" program.
..."It is expensive to go to a dentist," he said. "These changes are just ludicrous."
CMS seeks recommendations that allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines
Administration continues efforts to increase consumer choice, promote competition and drive down prices in the health insurance market
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a request for information (RFI) today that solicits recommendations on how to eliminate regulatory, operational and financial barriers to enhance issuers’ ability to sell health insurance coverage across state lines. This announcement builds on President Trump’s October 12, 2017 Executive Order, “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States,” which intends to provide Americans relief from rising premiums by increasing consumer choice and competition.
I've attended Netroots Nation twice before. The first time was way back in 2007 in Chicago, back when it was actually called Yearly Kos (the conference started out as an offshoot of the Daily Kos progressive online community). They changed the name to "Netroots Nation" the following year to reflect that it had grown larger than any single website. The second time was here in Detroit in 2014, which happened to also be the same point I was at my peak media awareness (my "fifteen minutes of fame" so to speak).
For more than a decade, Netroots Nation has hosted the largest annual conference for progressives, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees from around the country and beyond. Netroots Nation 2019 is set for July 11-13 in Philadelphia.
The general thinking at the time was that the judges would simply rule in the carriers favor and order the Trump Administration to pay the carriers the money owed to them from the last three months of 2017 (over $2 billion nationally, although the amounts at stake for each individual carrier suing is generally kmore along the lines of seven figures each). If this had been what happened there likely wouldn't have been much more to the story.
Instead, all three judges ruled--on behalf of dozens of carriers, since at least one of the cases is a class action suit--that the government owes them CSR payments for not only Q4 2017, but all twelve months of 2018 as well, assuming the carriers wanted to demand those payments.
Regular readers know that I've been calling for Congress to #KillTheCliff for years:
Once again: Under the ACA, if you earn between 100-400% FPL (between $12,140 and $48,560 for a single person), you're eligible for APTC assistance on a sliding scale. The formula is based on the premium for the Silver "benchmark" plan available in your area, which averages around $611/month in 2019.
Here's how the formula works under the current ACA wording:
...Here's the problem: If they earn exactly 400% FPL ($48,560), they'll also only have to pay 9.86% ($4,802), receiving $2,530 in subsidies for the year....
I don't know what the status is of H.R. 5155 (the House Democrats catch-all "ACA 2.0" bill which I've been pushing for awhile now), but it looks like individual elements of it are also in the works as standalone bills:
Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - 10:00am
Location: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Subcommittees: Health (116th Congress)
The Health Subcommittee with hold a legislative hearing on Wednesday, March 6, at 10 am in the John D. Dingell Room, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Strengthening Our Health Care System: Legislation to Lower Consumer Costs and Expand Access.” The bills to be the subject of the legislative hearing are as follows.
Younger adults pay a lower percentage of their income (at a given level) for the benchmark plan
Older adults are held harmless
All individuals, regardless of income, are eligible for subsidy assistance
Full advertising and outreach funded
Health insurance premium tax suspended
...It looks like the insurers are trying to lay markers for where they want to see things in 2021 or 2022. They are looking at a fix and expansion of the current paradigm instead of a complete replacement of the system.
A big shout-out to Josh Dorner for providing a roundup of the current status of a five different lawsuits (six, really, although two of them are on the same topic in two different states) fighting back against GOP/Trump Administration sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, including:
The "Take Care" lawsuit (which tackles the Trump Admin slashing HC.gov's marketing budget, outreach budget, open enrollment period length and more)
There's also the various CSR reimbursement payment lawsuits filed by various insurance carriers. Those should have been a fairly minor issue only relating to about $2 billion in payments dating back to the 4th quarter of 2017...but as I explained in detail here, these suits may instead turn into an even more massive headache for the Trump Administration, and rightly so.
Amidst all the depressing news about various GOP states moving backwards on healthcare policy by gunking up Medicaid programs to add draconian work requirements, lowering the eligibility thresholds, stripping benefits and so forth, there were two positive developments in deep red territory last week, both relating to Medicaid work requirements:
A bill that sought to place work or other requirements on Medicaid recipients in West Virginia has died in the House of Delegates.
A House committee put the bill on its inactive calendar Wednesday, Feb. 27, the final day that legislation could be passed in their chamber of origin. The full House earlier Wednesday debated the bill but stopped short of voting on it, and did not take up the bill during a late evening session before adjourning.
The bill would have required able-bodied adults to work, participate in workforce training or community service, or attend a drug treatment or recovery program for at least 20 hours per week.
UPDATE: Please see Esther F's comment below this post for some important caveats/points regarding survey bias.
I had to think long and hard about what headline to use for this blog post. The first ones which came to mind were pretty crude, along the lines of "I've got mine, f*ck you!". After giving it some thought, I went with something a bit more genteel.
eHealth is one of the largest private online insurance brokers in the country. They sell ACA-compliant healthcare policies, but also sell other types of coverage, including non-ACA "short-term" plans, which regular readers (as well as eHealth) are aware I am not a fan of, to put it mildly.
Regardless, while I may not care for some of their offerings, they seem to be a reasonable company overall, and they regularly provide handy customer surveys on various ACA/healthcare topics which I find useful from time to time.
Last fall, I estimated that perhaps 85,000 of those newly eligible to enroll in Medicaid would actually be "cannibalized" from the existing ACA exchange enrollee population...and sure enough, when the 2019 Open Enrollment numbers were posted, exhange enrollment in Virginia was down by 72,000 people, putting them dead last nationally in terms of year over year performance (down 18% from 2018).
Unfortunately, without an income demographic breakout, there's no way of being certain how much of that dropoff was due to Medicaid expansion as opposed to middle-income enrollees simply choosing to drop their coverage.
Today, however, Virginia state delegate Danica Roem posted the following update, which includes a link to a very nifty interactive graphic Medicaid expansion dashboard:
I visited DC last month for the Families USA healthcare conference. While I was there, I managed to arrange to meet with staffers for four U.S. Senators and two House members (in fact, the House members themselves stopped by to talk for awhile as well. None of the Senators did, but they were a bit busy dealing with Donald Trump's idiotic temper tantrum government shutdown at the time).
In my meetings, we discussed a variety of healthcare policy-related issues, but the two most important ones I focused on were:
The official title of the bill is literally "The Medicare for All Act of 2019", and for the most part it's pretty similar to the Senate version rolled out in September 2017 by Sen. Bernie Sanders and a dozen or more Democratic Senators. However, there are several key differences between the two: