Add Maine to the list of states w/extended Open Enrollment? (updated)
Oh for heaven's sake:
In the wake of a windstorm that knocked out power to more than 400,000 Mainers, federal officials have agreed to give Mainers more time to enroll for health care under the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Sen. Angus King sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November requesting an extended deadline for Mainers who spent the better part of a week in the dark without internet or computer access. On Friday, King shared the agency’s reply, which said Mainers likely would qualify for a special enrollment period, extending their enrollment deadline.
“CMS recognizes that certain exceptional circumstances, including a natural disaster such as a severe windstorm, can prevent an individual from enrolling in coverage before an open enrollment period expires,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in her reply to King.
Friday was the last day of open enrollment for health care in 2018. Verma didn’t say how much longer Mainers might get to complete enrollment, or what conditions would qualify them for the special enrollment period. She directed Mainers who didn’t complete enrollment before the deadline to call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and explain their situation.
Keep in mind that aside from the 10 state-based marketplaces (SBMs) which have later enrollment deadlines to begin with, there's also the entire states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, as well as parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas which have been given 2 extra weeks due to the slew of hurricanes which hit those areas last fall.
And yet, just as they're doing with the hurricane zones, there seems to be some cognitive disconnect about who is and isn't elgible. The article above says that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) didn't specify how long Maine residents have what other conditions would have to be met to qualilfy. This appears to be a left-hand/right-hand situation.
Look, as a supporter of the ACA and as someone who has railed against the Trump Administration for their relentless sabotage actions against it, I'm all for bumping out the deadlines...but this is getting kind of silly.
At this point it'd be a whole lot less confusing if CMS just officially extended the 2018 Open Enrollment deadline out to New Year's Eve for all 39 states on HealthCare.Gov and be done with it.
UPDATE: Thanks as always to Louise Norris who got ahold of a newsletter sent to ACA assistors last week which seems to indicate that Maine is more of a case-by-case sort of thing, not really in the same category as the hurricane-based extensions:
UPDATE 12/20/17: OK, never mind; the Maine Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is following the same "no documentation needed" rules as the Hurricane states as well:
Following Update from CMS, King Announces That Special Enrollment Period for Maine People Affected by October Storm Runs Through December 31st
Individuals Affected By October Wind Storm Do Not Need to Provide Additional Documentation To Qualify; In November, King Wrote Letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma Requesting Extension
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and healthcare assisters working to sign Maine people up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act have received additional guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, telling them that people in Maine affected by October’s wind storm can sign up for coverage through December 31st, and will not require any additional documentation to qualify. The new information provides an update to CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s response to Senator King’s request for an extension of open enrollment for affected areas of Maine.
...Per Administrator Verma’s letter to Senator King, any resident of Maine who did not secure coverage by the end of the Open Enrollment Period and was affected by the wind storm should contact the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to speak with a Marketplace representative.
Add Maine's 1.33 million residents to the tally and we're up to over 159 million people, closing in on 50%.