COVID-19

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.

  • 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:

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.

via the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange:

TWO SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE END JULY 15

  • Nearl​y 53,000 r​esidents have enrolled since mid-March

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced it is entering the final week for Marylanders to enroll in health insurance coverage through the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period and the Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program. Maryland made the decision to re-open the Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period and extend the deadline in an effort to give more residents the opportunity to enroll. Both are set to end on July 15.

The deadline extension for the Coronavirus Special Enrollment Period comes as more than 49,000 residents have received coverage during this special enrollment period that began in March with Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement of a State of Emergency in Maryland. Even before this extension, Maryland already offered one of the longest special enrollment periods in the country since the emergency began.

IMPORTANT: As noted here, I made some sort of serious data transfer error in at least two states (Michigan and Texas), making last week's "top 100" ranking questionable. For this week (and going forward) I'm triple-checking to make sure the county names, populations, case totals and fatality totals are sorted properly for all 50 states.

Now that I've brought all 50 states (+DC & the U.S. territories) up to date, I'm going to be posting a weekly ranking of the 100 U.S. counties (or county equivalents) with the highest per capita official COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

Again, I've separates the states into two separate spreadsheets:

The big story with COVID-19 the past few weeks has been, of course, the out-of-control increase in new cases (if not actual deaths...yet) from the virus in red states like Texas, Florida and especially Arizona which were relatively unscathed throughout the spring while the pandemic was raging across Northeastern blue states like New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, as well as Michigan and California.

While most of the states being hit with the summer wave are historically Republican strongholds (the states being hit hardest in June/July also include Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, etc.), there's one important exception to this: California, which was hit early but which clamped down fairly quickly, has re-emerged as a major hot spot. So what gives?

via MNsure (this was actually posted a couple of weeks ago but I missed it):

ST. PAUL, Minn.—99,688 Minnesotans have come to MNsure.org and enrolled in private health insurance through a special enrollment period (SEP) or received eligibility for a public assistance program (Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare) since March 1. As expected, sign-ups across all programs have been driven by concerns amid the pandemic.

"It’s never been more important to know you’re covered. That’s why we are so glad to have been able to help almost 100,000 Minnesotans gain access to comprehensive health care coverage," said CEO Nate Clark. "But we know there are others out there who are currently uninsured and may qualify to sign up. If you’ve recently lost your employer-sponsored health insurance, had an income change, or have another qualifying life event, come to MNsure.org to see if you’re eligible."

The graph below is a linear depiction of how COVID-19 has spread across the state of Florida every day since March 20th.

As you can see, the thick orange line shows the ramping up of testing, the thick blue line is the increase in cases and the thick red line is the (official) rate of fatalities. In order to fit all three measurements on the same graph in a presentable way, the scale is different for each: Tests are per 100 residents; cases are per thousand, and deaths are per ten thousand.

The thinner lines are for Orange County, Florida specifically...and there's a reason for that which I'll explain below.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I've been alerted to the fact that I had data entry errors in at least two of the states last weekend (Michigan and Texas). It looks like the sort order got messed up during the data transfer in those states. As a result, at least 2 of the "Top 40" / "Top 100" counties I had listed were wrong. I've deleted the spreadsheets for this week and will triple-check everything for this weekend's weekly update. My apologies for the error.

 

Now that I've brought all 50 states (+DC & the U.S. territories) up to date, I'm going to be posting a weekly ranking of the 40 U.S. counties (or county equivalents) with the highest per capita official COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

Again, I've separates the states into two separate spreadsheets:

Over at healthinsurance.org, Louise Norris has already done the work for me in tracking down the preliminary 2021 individual and small group market rate changes for the state of Maine:

Average premiums expected to decrease Maine’s exchange in 2021

Maine’s three individual market insurers filed proposed rates for 2021 in June 2020 (average proposed rate changes are summarized here by the Maine Bureau of Insurance). For the second year in a row, average rates are expected to decrease for 2021:

UPDATE 9/29/20: There have been several important developments in the #TexasFoldEm case since I posted this back in June.

For one thing, another 81,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and another 4.7 million Americans have tested positive for it.

For another, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, and Donald Trump has already formally nominated an ultra-right wing zealot who is on the record as wanting the ACA to be struck down to replace her. His nominee's confirmation hearings have already been scheduled to start in mid-October, meaning that there's a very good chance that she'll be confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate before Election Day...in which case the Texas Fold'em case to strike down the entire ACA could end up being the very first case she hears as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice on November 10th.

With this in mind, I figured this would be a good time to re-up the analysis below.

Here's my weekly update of the spread of COVID-19 across all 50 states, DC & PR over time, from March 20th through June 27th, 2020, in official cases per thousand residents.

I've given up trying to tie every trend line to the state name; it simply gets too crowded near the bottom even with a small font size, so I've grouped some of them together where necessary.

Note that this graph doesn't take into account any of the rumored undercounts in Florida, Georgia etc...these are based on the official reports from the various state health departments. If and when those are ever modified retroactively I'll update the data accordingly.

I've highlighted the three states with the ugliest increases in per capit cases over the past week or so (Arizona, Florida and Texas), along with New York and Michigan for reference.

Click the image itself for a high-resolution version.

Note: The sudden jumps in New York and Massachusetts reflect reporting methodology changes; MA started including probable COVID-19 cases, while New York added a batch of 15,000 positive antibody tests results they hadn't been previously including.

Now that I've brought all 50 states (+DC & the U.S. territories) up to date, I'm going to be posting a weekly ranking of the 40 U.S. counties (or county equivalents) with the highest per capita official COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

Again, I've separates the states into two separate spreadsheets:

Most of the data comes from either the GitHub data repositories of either Johns Hopkins University or the New York Times. Some of the data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 40 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, June 27th:

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