Charles Gaba's blog

via Connect for Health Colorado:

More than 14,000 Coloradans gain health coverage during emergency Special Enrollment Period; Marketplace reports higher enrollments and lower costs in 2020

DENVER — A total of 14,263 Coloradans gained health insurance coverage during Connect for Health Colorado’s emergency Special Enrollment Period, which ran from March 20 to April 30. The Marketplace opened the Special Enrollment Period in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), to ensure as many Coloradans as possible have access to health care.

“We’ve seen a tremendous response to the emergency Special Enrollment Period and need for affordable health coverage,” said Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson. “As always, we are here to help Coloradans get covered and stay covered as they navigate life changes this year.”

via MNsure:

MNsure offers enrollment opportunity for Minnesotans newly eligible for financial help due to decrease in income

  • MNsure is the only place to get financial help to lower the cost of health insurance

Starting May 11, 2020, MNsure is offering an ongoing special enrollment period for Minnesotans who experience a decrease in household income and become newly eligible for advanced premium tax credits (APTC). Those looking to enroll will need to have had health insurance that meets the standards in the Affordable Care Act, also known as minimum essential coverage (MEC), for one or more days in the 60 days immediately preceding their decrease in household income.

Minnesotans must act within 60 days after they experience a decrease in household income to be eligible. 

Regular readers have no doubt noticed that I've let the blog sit mostly idle for the past week or so, even though there's been a ton of noteworthy developments. As I noted on Friday, part of this was due to an emergency laptop replacement/transfer. Part of it was due to it being Mother's Day weekend. Part of it was due to some other personal issues.

Most of it, however, has been due to my getting a bit obsessive with my newest project, breaking out COVID-19 cases and fatalities at not just the state level but the county level.

This has been far more difficult than you might imagine. While there are a half a dozen great sites out there already doing up-to-date tracking of COVID-19 data at the state level, such as the COVID Tracking Project, WorldoMeters and so forth, when it comes to the county-level data, it's a very different story. Some state health department websites make this data easily available and in an easy-to-read format; others make it next to impossible.

Since tracking and analyzing data is what I'm best known for...and since I'm mostly stuck sitting in front of the computer all day whether I like it or not these days anyway...I've started my own daily COVID-19 spreadsheet.

Again, I'm not the one who compiled the data itself--many other teams with far better resources than I have are doing that--but I'm pulling their work together and adding some additional context, such as per capita info by state/territory.

Nationally:

You may have noticed that I haven't posted many entries the past week or so aside from nightly COVID summaries and a few reposts of SBM press releases. Two reasons for this:

  • First, I've been spending a lot of time expanding/updating my county-level COVID-19 spreadsheets, which I've split off onto their own link (the state-level version was starting to get bogged down...it has over 40 daily worksheets; apparently the addition of the county-level sheets was slowing it down)
  • Second, my 8-year old laptop had a meltdown (literally, of sorts...the battery overheated and swelled up); I had to scramble to replace it (it was overdue anyway), which wasn't easy to do on short notice in the middle of a shelter-at-home pandemic. I've been spending the week transferring over gobs of data, updating software and/or getting replacement software for incompatible versions. It's a painstaking process.

Anyway, I'm more than a little backed up and plan on catching up ASAP.

Since tracking and analyzing data is what I'm best known for...and since I'm mostly stuck sitting in front of the computer all day whether I like it or not these days anyway...I've started my own daily COVID-19 spreadsheet.

Again, I'm not the one who compiled the data itself--many other teams with far better resources than I have are doing that--but I'm pulling their work together and adding some additional context, such as per capita info by state/territory.

Nationally:

On March 16th, New York's ACA exchange, NY State of Health, announced that they'd be launching a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period with a deadline of April 15th. As that date approached, in the middle of the worst pandemic to hit New York State 100 years, the deadline was extended out by a month, through May 15th.

Now as that deadline approaches, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered the COVID-19 SEP to be bumped out by another month:

Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Outlines Additional Guidelines for When Regions Can Re-Open

via Nevada Health Link:

10 days remain to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan through Nevada Health Link during the Exceptional Circumstance Special Enrollment Period

WHAT: Nevadans have 10 days remaining to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan through Nevada Health Link, the online health insurance marketplace operated by the state agency, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (Exchange), which announced an Exceptional Circumstance Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in March for qualified Nevadans who missed the Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The SEP, originally introduced in response to Governor Sisolak’s March 12th Emergency Declaration, runs through May 15. Consumers who enroll by May 15 will have coverage effective June 1, 2020.

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Massachusetts Health Connector continues extended enrollment as nearly 45,000 people enroll in new plans, update current coverage

April 28, 2020 – The Massachusetts Health Connector continues to help people who need health insurance after losing coverage or income due to the coronavirus, with a May 23 deadline ahead for June 1 coverage.

In order to help residents who lose their employer-sponsored coverage during the economic crisis created by the coronavirus, the Health Connector has created an extended enrollment period through May 25, so that anyone who needs health insurance can come to the exchange and get into coverage. Additionally, current Health Connector members are encouraged to update their income information if they lost their jobs or working hours have changed, to ensure they are in the plan that provides appropriate financial help paying for their coverage.

via the Washington Healthplan Finder:

Washington Healthplanfinder Urges Uninsured to Act Fast to Meet Friday, May 8 Deadline

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today is urging individuals who did not secure health insurance for 2020 to sign up for coverage by 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8, the deadline of the limited-time special enrollment period (SEP) through Washington Healthplanfinder for coverage beginning May 1, 2020.

“Now is the time to sign up for health coverage if you are currently uninsured,” said Exchange Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan, “There are many resources available to help individuals understand their options and secure health coverage before the special enrollment period ends.”

 As you can tell, I've become a bit obsessed with tracking the COVID-19 outbreak on the county level within each state, along with the corresponding partisan divide.

Today, I'm looking at North Carolina. The good news is that I was able to acquire daily case & death data going back over a month. The bad news is that it stops a month ago...that is, the earliest day I could find county-level data for was April 4th, which means I'm missing about two weeks worth of numbers from the second half of March (most states I've looked at so far start around March 20th).

Still, even with the first two weeks missing, the trendline is pretty clear: Once again, what started out as a "Democratic area problem" has quickly shifted into an Everyone problem. It looks like things have stabilized at roughly a 50/50 divide, with around the same number of cases appearing in counties which voted for Donald Trump in 2016 as HIllary Clinton:

Since tracking and analyzing data is what I'm best known for...and since I'm mostly stuck sitting in front of the computer all day whether I like it or not these days anyway...I've started my own daily COVID-19 spreadsheet.

Again, I'm not the one who compiled the data itself--many other teams with far better resources than I have are doing that--but I'm pulling their work together and adding some additional context, such as per capita info by state/territory.

Nationally:

After a TON of tedious work porting data over into my county-level COVID-19 tracking spreadsheet, I've completed charts breaking out confirmed cases in two additional states: Minnesota and Texas.

Minnesota was an obvious choice, given that it was the closest swing state won by Donald Trump. Texas may seem like an unusual choice given that it's considered to be a solid red state and that it hasn't seen the type of ugly outbreak of COVID-19 (yet) that several other states have, but I happened to discover that unlike states like Florida and Georgia, Texas's Health Dept. dashboard makes it quite easy to download the historic case and fatality data I need to compile these charts, so I decided to go for it. The results in both states are interesting for different reasons.

via MNsure:

MNsure releases Request for Proposal for the Minnesota Insulin Safety Net Program’s Public Awareness Campaign

  • Submissions accepted until May 26, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn.—On April 15, 2020, Governor Walz signed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide relief to Minnesotans struggling to afford their insulin. MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, is responsible for a creating a public awareness campaign to promote the Insulin Safety Net Program. The public awareness campaign will inform Minnesotans in urgent need of insulin how to access the state’s safety net program, and highlight the availability of insulin manufacturers' patient assistance programs.​ 

The request for proposal (RFP) seeks proposals from qualified firms or contractors capable of producing a statewide public awareness campaign to increase awareness of the Insulin Safety Net Program. The anticipated time frame of the campaign is July 2020 through June 2023.

For weeks now, I've been tracking the daily COVID-19 numbers at the county level in several states; particularly Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. While the pandemic hit the more densely-populated areas first (which tend to lean Democratic), the trendlines in Michigan and Wisconsin have been clearly moving towards the more rural, Republican-leaning counties increasing their share of the cases and corresponding deaths as time has passed.

Pennsylvania has been different--after a less dramatic shift from blue to red counties in late March, PA seems to have levelled off, with new cases holding pretty steady between the two.

It's been another week, so I figured I should post and update...and it's more of the same in all three cases. First up, Michigan:

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