START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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New Mexico dumps more fuel on the Halbig "domain & a splashpage fix" fire

Hat Tip To: 
Esther Ferington

Nice find by Esther F. The main focus of the story is that a 5th insurance company has decided to join 4 others on New Mexico's ACA exchange, which is of course good news for competition, the free market and so forth...

The newest insurer is CHRISTUS Health Plan of Texas, Franchini said during a meeting of the NMHIX board in Santa Fe.

“CHRISTUS is a nonprofit and they will be on the exchange. They will be the fifth carrier on the exchange,” Franchini said.

CHRISTUS will join New Mexico Health Connections, Presbyterian Health Plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico and Molina Healthcare of New Mexico as the firms that will sell in the individual exchange.

...however, Esther notes a potentially far more significant section of the story farther down. The backstory is this: New Mexico has been planning on running their own exchange for the 2nd year of open enrollment, but has more recently been having second thoughts given the various technical issues faced by some of the other state exchanges. Therefore...

The NMHIX board is expected to decide today whether to stay for another year on the federal individual exchange, HealthCare.gov, or operate an independent, state-based exchange.

Board member Dr. Martin Hickey said federal officials have already certified New Mexico has a state-based exchange, which means New Mexicans who buy on the federal exchange will be eligible for federal premium subsidies.

Huh. Well, now...if that's the case, then that not only resolves the Halbig issue for New Mexico, but presumably for Idaho, Nevada, Massachusetts and Oregon as well, all of which are either moving from HC.gov to their own exchange or from their own exchange over to HC.gov this fall (or possibly staying put in MA's case).

However, this also underscores that just because a state has had their enrollments purchased via Healthcare.Gov, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're part of an exchange "NOT established by the State" either.

More ambiguity and wiggle room here. It sounds like any state could indeed set up any sort of two-bit website they want which hooks into HC.gov and call it an "exchange established by the State" as long as the HHS Dept. certifies that it counts as such. Again, not a lawyer here, so I could be dead wrong about this, and again, the states in question would have to be willing to play ball, but this could potentially resolve the issue for a good dozen or so states which aren't being run by sociopaths (or at least which aren't being run by them after November, anyway).