2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

In January 2013 a U.C. Berkeley report (pages 4-5) analyzed what Medi-Cal Expansion would mean to California. Now we can compare some of the predictions to what has happened so far. (The report uses the terms "newly eligible" for what is called "Strict Expansion" in ACASignups (i.e. childless adults ages 19-64), and "already eligible but not yet enrolled" for what ACASignups calls "woodworkers" or "previously eligible.")

Prediction 1: "With the adoption of the Medi-Cal Expansion, we predict...more than 1.4 million Californians will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal, of which between 750,000 and 910,000 are expected to be enrolled at any point in time by 2019."  According to ACA Signups, more than 750,000 "newly eligible" had enrolled by mid-March 2014, including 650,000 moved into Medi-Cal from the Low Income Health Program on Jan. 1.

Quite possibly the lamest response to a "Good Obamacare News!" tweet I've seen to date, although it does crystalize the "taking our ball and going home" attitude taken by the GOP since open enrollment closed:

Geppetto checkmark RT @charles_gaba: #ACASignups No matter how you slice it, 2/3 of Americans want to keep Ocare: http://t.co/Pbb0ZBlzCY

— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) June 12, 2014

Meanwhile, Iraq that Obama abandoned disintegrates into chaos @ThePlumLineGS @charles_gaba #SmartDiplomacy #Reset

— Jim Branch (@jamesbranch3) June 12, 2014

The question above is rhetorical, because I already know the answer.

From the original, utterly debunked "Only 67% have paid!" press release:

House Energy and Commerce Committee members sent letters requesting specific enrollment data, including the number of individuals who have paid their first month’s premium and demographic breakdowns. The committee has compiled the data that provides a snapshot of the true enrollment picture as of April 15, 2014, after the official end of the open enrollment period. Due to the administration’s repeated and unilateral extensions and changes, as well as the fact that many insurers have reported that individuals will still have time to pay their first month’s premium, the committee plans to ask the insurers in the federally facilitated marketplace to provide an enrollment update by May 20, 2014.

Greg Sargent has a nice piece in the WaPo this morning about a new Bloomberg News poll which uses "more accurate" wording to see what the latest zeitgeist on the ACA is, now that the dust has settled on the first open enrollment period:

...some of the law’s foes like to claim those polls are problematic because they offer a choice between “fixing” and “repealing” the law. This, they say, biases responses in favor of “fix,” because people like fixing things, and at any rate, Obamacare can’t be fixed by definition.

So this new Bloomberg News poll will pose an additional problem to those who simply refuse to accept the reality that, while disapproval of the law remains high, the American people still want to stick with it:

What is your opinion of the health care law?

As I noted last week, the whole "Obamacare is socialism!!" mantra, which was always stupid in the first place, looks even sillier now with the news coming in from state after state that more and more private insurance companies are jumping into the ACA exchange pool. Now comes news from my own state of Michigan that the number on the exchange for the 2015 open enrollment season will climb from 13 to a whopping 18:

LANSING — Additional insurers are asking to join Michigan's Health Insurance Marketplace.

The state said today that it has received filing information from 18 health insurance companies wanting to be included in 2015 — five more than participated last year.

Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Ann Flood said state residents seeking coverage through the marketplace will have even more plans to choose from and that "increased competition helps keep premiums lower."

For some reason people are geeking out about the news that Minnesota's uninsured rate has dropped by 40% since last fall. Don't get me wrong, this is fantastic news; I'm just not sure why it's getting more of a response than, say, New Jersey's uninsured rate dropping 38%, or especially Massachusetts' rate plummeting down from 3.6% to virtually ZILCH (around an 86% drop if you assume 0.5% today).

Still, this doesn't take anything away from Minnesota's accomplishment; Mazel Tov all around!

The uninsured rate in Minnesota has fallen by more than 40 percent since the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion started, a new report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center shows.

The analysis appears to be the first assessment of how a state's uninsured rate has changed since the insurance expansion began in October. It shows that, between September 2013 and May 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell from 445,000 to about 264,500.

Wow! New Jersey's ACA Medicaid Expansion is up to over 201,000 people (43% of the total eligible population), helping reduce the state's uninsured rate from 21.2% to 13.2% in the past 8 months:

A monthly enrollment report showed that 1,485,576 state residents were covered by FamilyCare, which includes coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That total represented a 45,674-person increase from April and a 201,095-person increase since January 1, when the eligibility expansion went into effect.

The numbers suggest that the number of uninsured New Jerseyans has continued to fall since early March, when a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored survey found that the percentage of state residents without insurance had already fallen to 13.2 percent, down from 21.2 percent in September.

Minnesota continues to quietly add enrollees to both QHPs (up 3,005 since the end of open enrollment) and Medicaid (up 44,567 since then):

June 9, 2014 

Health Coverage Type Total Enrollments 

  • Medical Assistance 136,303
  • MinnesotaCare 48,942
  • Qualified Health Plan (QHP) 51,500

TOTAL 236,745

That means Minnesota is averaging 51 additional QHPs per day during the "off season".

At the end of the official enrollment extension period (technically 4/19), Colorado's exchange QHP tally stood at 125,402. As of the end of May, it was up to 132,815, with SHOP enrollments up to 2,135. This means Colorado's QHP total went up around 6% since open enrollment ended, or around 177 per day.

OK, I've only gone completely off-topic on this site like twice, but I'm just such a huge fan of this woman that I'm making an exception.

I'm very much aware that the bulk of my 15 minutes of fame pretty much ran out the moment that the first open enrollment extension period wrapped up, but the site still receives a decent amount of traffic so I figured, what the hell, might as well help give a deserving talent some additional exposure before what's left of my own spotlight dims completely.

Besides, there's been so much depressing news of late (more mass shootings by wingnut extremists, the ugly response by the GOP to the President bringing home an American POW, etc) that I figured I should lighten things up a bit for once. WIth that in mind...

Over 6 years ago, during the famous Obama/Hillary Presidential Primary Slugfest, I stumbled across a YouTube video of a talented woman named Rosemary Watson who absolutely nailed Hillary Clinton to a T in a hilarious bit called "New Hand Gestures":

Well I'll be damned:

When Massachusetts passed its landmark health coverage law under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, no one claimed the state would get to zero, as in 0 percent of residents who are uninsured. But numbers out today suggest Massachusetts is very close.

Between December 2013 and March of this year, when the federal government was urging people to enroll, the number of Massachusetts residents signed up for health coverage increased by more than 215,000. If that number holds, the percentage of Massachusetts residents who do not have coverage has dropped to less than 1 percent.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Massachusetts only had around 242,000 uninsured residents out of 6.65 million total as of last September (about 3.6%), just before the ACA exchanges launched. So on the one hand, Massachusetts already had the lowest uninsured rate in the country due, of course, to RomneyCare, the precursor of Obamacare (no matter how much Mitt wants to deny it now, Lord knows why...)

So, it's been over a month since my last official update of The Graph. I've been debating whether to post any further updates of it, especially since the HHS Dept. announced that they won't be posting any more monthly exchange QHP updates, at least until the next open enrollment period starts in November. Without these, I have no official count of additional enrollments beyond the 8.02 million which were announced through April 19th.

However, I do have some official numbers since then, mostly on the Medicaid/CHIP side, and a handful of the state exchanges have still be providing regular updates (ironically, two of the states which continue to keep posting updates have the worst technical problems, Hawaii and Oregon).

Michigan is now up to over 57% of the 500,000 residents eligible for Medicaid/CHIP under the Affordable Care Act:

Healthy Michigan Plan Enrollment Statistics

Beneficiaries with Healthy Michigan Plan Coverage: 287,281
(Includes beneficiaries enrolled in health plans and beneficiaries not required to enroll in a health plan.)

*Statistics as of June 9, 2014 
*Updated every Monday at 3 p.m.

OK, this is a very short post. It's not technically ACA-related, but it's certainly about healthcare & preventative medical treatment in America, so it seems close enough.

  1. Look at these charts, comparing the causes of death in the U.S. in 1900 vs. today.
  2. Consider the Anti-Vaxxer movement.
  3. Weep for the future.

That is all. Carry on.

Four important stories about the technical situation status on various ACA exchange websites:

Idaho moving forward with state-run Obamacare exchange

Officials in Idaho say they’re undaunted by the well-documented failures of Obamacare exchanges in neighboring states and are moving  full-steam ahead with plans to launch their own web portal this November.

While executives at Cover Oregon and Nevada Health  Link abandon their state-run websites and turn to the federal exchange (HealthCare.gov), Your Health Idaho is headed in the opposite direction.

The state relied on the federal website for the open-enrollment period that ended in mid-April because it had less than 200 days last year set up its own web-exchange when state lawmakers authorized the project. It was one of two states — New Mexico is the other — that had to wait a year for its own site, and exchange officials say the delay has been a plus as they meet with other states to discuss what went right or wrong during Obamacare’s first round.

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