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Tennessee has also posted their preliminary 2021 rate filings for both the individual and small group markets. Aside from being one of the few states where a significant number of carriers are including any COVID-19 pandemic factor at all (in both markets), Tennessee has several new entrants and one significant withdrawl (I think).

On the individual market, UnitedHealthcare is newly entering, while Cigna is expanding their coverage areas as noted here. Cigna is also newly entering Tennessee's small group market, as is Bright Health Insurance.

Overall, Tennessee carriers are asking for a 10.3% increase on the indy market (the second highest so far after New York's 11.7% average), mostly driven by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which holds a whopping 83% of the market. On the small group market, the average increase is 5.5%.

COVID-19 accounts for 1.7 points of the increase on average in the indy market and 2.6 points in the small group market. This, again, is the highest statewide average COVID impact I've seen after New York state so far.

Last year, thanks to the Section 1332 Reinsurance waiver allowed for by the ACA, Montana health insurance carriers reduced their premiums for 2020 by 13.1% on average on the individual market, while raising them by 7% on the small group market (which the reinsurance program doesn't impact).

For 2021, avg. premiums are going up again, but only by a nominal amount...the requested increases average 3.2% for the individual market and just 2.4% for small group carriers:

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and just getting generally swamped, I haven't gotten around to writing about Pennsylvania's state-based ACA exchange, due to launch this fall, since way back in December:

PA’s A Step Closer To Starting A State-Based Health Insurance Exchange

Pennsylvania’s new, state-run health ​insurance exchange is getting rolling ahead of its launch in 2021.

The commonwealth has chosen a California-based company, GetInsured to run it.

...Zachary Sherman, who heads the newly-created Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority, said the contract with GetInsured will cost around $25 million annually, plus startup expenses that’ll be spread over several years.

“That’s compared to what we currently pay for Healthcare.gov, which is in the $90 to $95 million range,” he said.

Sherman said the administration chose GetInsured because it has already contracted with other states, like Nevada and Minnesota.

He said the new exchange is expected to save people between five and ten percent every year on premiums.

When I first read the quote, I assumed it was either a paraphrase, out of context or sarcasm. Sadly, it was none of those:

A series of controversial remarks by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on a St. Louis radio show are getting widespread attention — and some pushback.

In an interview on Friday with talk-radio host Marc Cox on KFTK (97.1 FM), Parson indicated both certainty and acceptance that the coronavirus will spread among children when they return to school this fall. The virus has killed 1,130 people in the state despite a weekslong stay-at-home order in the spring that helped slow the virus’ spread — and the state set a record on Saturday with 958 new cases.

...Parson’s comment on the coronavirus signaled that the decision to send all children back to school would be justified even in a scenario in which all of them became infected with the coronavirus.

Yesterday Donald Trump was interviewed by Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday. It was full of the usual batcrap insane lies and babbling on Trump's part, but one exchange in particular caught my attention:

Wallace: "I want to talk to you about Obamacare. Since the pandemic hit, millions of people have lost their jobs, and thereby lost their health insurance. Almost a half million have signed up for Obamacare. Your administration just announced that you're signing onto a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare..."

Trump: "And replace it."

Wallace: "Why does it make sense to overturn Obamacare, which people are now relying on...Democrats are gonna say, the man who's wanted to kill Obamacare is gonna take it away...the protections for pre-existing conditions..."

Trump: "First of all, we got rid of the individual mandate, pre-existing conditions will always be taken care of by me and Republicans, 100%.."

Wallace: "But you've been in office 3 1/2 years, you don't have a plan..."

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, July 18th (click image for high-res version):

via the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange:

NEARLY 58,000 MARYLANDERS GAIN HEALTH COVERAGE DURING TWO SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS

BALTIMORE, MD – A total of nearly 58,000 Marylanders enrolled in health coverage during Maryland Health Connection’s two special enrollment periods that began in February and March and ended Wednesday, July 15.

The Maryland Health Insurance Easy Enrollment program launched Feb. 26 as the first of its kind in the nation. The Comptroller of Maryland asked state tax filers to check a box on their state tax return if they lacked health insurance and desired that information to be shared with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Several states are in the process of looking at creating similar programs.

Since February:

  • More than 41,000 filers checked the box
  • More than 3,700 enrolled as of July 13

Final numbers are pending, because tax filers had until the July 15 tax filing deadline to check the box on their state tax form, and will have several weeks to enroll.

via Greg Land at Benefits Pro:

Amid a pandemic-stricken nation struggling to find ways to reopen, massive unemployment and employees lucky enough to have jobs hanging onto them as tightly as possible, New York health care strategists are floating a plan to offer health insurance tax credits assistance to loan-saddled college graduates who have no overage or fear of losing what they do have.

As envisioned in a new report released last week by the United Hospital Fund, recent college graduates could be allowed to deduct the monthly costs of their student loan payments from their total adjusted income as calculated under the Affordable Care Act. 

  • Covered California approved a $440 million budget for fiscal year 2020-21 that includes a $30 million increase in marketing investments and $13 million for additional customer service upgrades to meet the needs of consumers. 
  • The increased spending, which represents a 16 percent increase over last year’s budget, comes amid continued uncertainty in the lives and livelihoods of Californians as public health officials fight against the spread of COVID-19.
  • The budget also calls for greater investments in information technology to improve efficiency, as well as increased efforts to help inform state and national policy on health care-related issues.
  • More than 209,000 people have signed up for coverage through Covered California since the exchange announced a special-enrollment period, which runs through the end of July, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

via the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday extended Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions while explicitly banning cities and counties from adopting rules requiring masks or other face coverings, a measure that could bolster the state’s case in a possible legal battle.

Kemp’s executive order — which was set to expire Wednesday evening — still encourages, rather than requires, Georgians to wear masks in public. The governor has called such a requirement “a bridge too far,” and his office has said local mandates are unenforceable.

The governor’s coronavirus orders have for months banned local governments from taking more restrictive or lenient steps than the state. But the new set of rules he signed on Wednesday specified for the first time that cities and counties can’t require the use of masks or other face coverings.

For the record, here's how Georgia is doing when it comes to handling COVID-19 at the moment:

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four:

But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Hardly surprising...again.

via the New York State government website:

Special Enrollment for Uninsured New Yorkers Will Extend for Additional 30 days and Remain Open Through August 15, 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended for another 30 days, through August 15, 2020, as the State continues to provide supportive services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.

*(more, really...see below)

I've referenced Families USA several times before (and I've attended their annual conference for the past three years), but for those not familiar with them:

Families USA, a leading national, non-partisan voice for health care consumers, is dedicated to achieving high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all. Our work is driven by and centered around four pillars: value, equity, coverage, and consumer experience. We view these focus areas — and the various issues unique to each area — as the cornerstones of America’s health care system.

Public policy analysis that is rooted in Hill and administration experience, movement-building advocacy, and collaboration with partners are deep-rooted hallmarks of our work. In turn, our work promotes a health system that protects consumers’ financial security as much as it does their health care security.

As we advance our mission by combining policy expertise and partnerships with community, state, and national leaders, we forge transformational solutions that improve the health and health care of our nation’s families and speak to the values we all have in common.

Back in March I noted that while the U.S. Supreme Court has indeed agreed to hear the Texas Fold'Em lawsuit to strike down the Affordable Care Act (aka "Texas vs. Azar", aka "Texas vs. U.S.", aka "CA vs. TX") sometime this fall, the odds of actually getting a final decision in the case from SCOTUS before the November election (or even before either Trump or Biden are sworn into office in January) is extremely unlikely:

The ACA case was granted. It will be heard this coming term.

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

#SCOTUS grants petition filed by California & other states, as well as petition filed by Texas on whether individual mandate can be separated from rest of ACA. Argument is likely in the fall, w/decision to follow by June 2021.

via the Nevada Health Link. This is from a couple of weeks ago, but still:

Nevada Health Link Announces Licensed Broker/Agent,
Navigator and In-Person Assister Recipients of Grant Program for Plan Year 2021

Carson City, Nev. –The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (Exchange), the state agency that connects Nevadans to qualified health plans (QHPs) through the online State Based Exchange (SBE) known as Nevada Health Link, announces the licensed Brokers/Agents, Navigators and In-Person Assisters selected as part of its plan year 2021 grant program. The program is designed to help close the uninsured gap in Nevada by helping those on the frontline to more effectively market to uninsured and underinsured populations.

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