The story itself is noteworthy mainly because it suggests that the ACA's individual mandate may be having a positive impact, as Wal-Mart reports that "far more" of their employees have enrolled in the company's healthcare program than they expected this year.

What strikes me, however, is how CNN Money is acting as though this is somehow a bad thing, since it "hits" their corporate profits for $500 million:

Health care costs hit Wal-Mart profit

Wal-Mart Stores says far more of its workers are signing up for its health care coverage than it expected.

Because of that, the world's largest retailer will earn less in the current fiscal year than it had previously promised investors.

While the requirement that employers provide health coverage has yet to take effect under Obamacare, the requirement that individuals have coverage has prompted people to compare plans available to them at work with plans offered on government exchanges.

Um, yup. That's exactly how it's supposed to work.

Interesting story (originally via Kaiser Health News) about a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act which gives CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a sub-section of the HHS Dept.) a $10 billion R&D/incubator budget over a decade to try out different methods for delivering healthcare and payments in a more efficient manner:

The law created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to launch experiments in every state, changing the way doctors and hospitals are paid, building networks between caregivers and training them to intervene before chronic illness gets worse.

One example: George Washington University's $1.9 million award to improve care and cut costs for at-home dialysis patients. Another: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's $24 million grant to reduce unnecessary hospital visits for chronically ill Medicare patients.

The center's 10-year, $10 billion budget is the largest ever devoted to transforming care. In several states the office is working to overhaul medicine for nearly all residents -- not just those with government Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

Still clearing out my in box, but I'm at least able to devote a full entry to each story this morning. This one is from more than a week ago but still very noteworthy:

One of the nation’s largest hospital operators,Tenet Healthcare THC -0.12% (THC), last week opened a window into the differences for patients and hospital financial coffers between those states with Medicaid dollars and those without.

“In our five states that expanded Medicaid in 2014, we benefited from a significant migration of patients from uninsured into Medicaid with a 54% decline in uninsured admissions and a 27% decline in uninsured outpatient visits,” Tenet chief executive Trevor Fetter said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call last week.

In case you think this is just "cherry-picking" from a single hospital corporation, here's a similar story from back in May (when Medicaid expansion enrollment was significantly lower):

Took me awhile to get to this story: Like Michigan, New Hampshire is a late addition to the ACA Medicaid Expansion club, having just started the program on July 1st. The initial number doesn't sound impressive until you realize that only 50,000 people are eligible for it in the state to begin with:

"It makes you happy to be able to offer people something," said Paula Smith, who as a counselor for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has had to tell some people that they have too much income for the new federal health-care marketplace.

..."We called her back and told her we could help her now," Smith said.

As of the end of the day Friday, Aug. 8, the state says 9,399 people have signed up for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program since enrollment began July 1. Actual coverage starts this Friday, Aug. 15.

New Hampshire officials have estimated that about 50,000 people the state are eligible for expanded benefits under Medicaid, the federal health program for people with lower incomes.

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick hits:

IDAHO: New Idaho exchange will grab its 76K Obamacare customers without feds’ help

Idaho officials say they’re tired of waiting on files  from the federal government and have figured out a way to transfer the state’s 76,000 Obamacare customers from the federal marketplace to its state-run portal this fall.

Your Health Idaho said it had hoped to leverage federal information to set up existing enrollees on their own web platform.

Instead, it has asked the state’s health and welfare agency to use its eligibility system to figure out who is eligible for government subsidies under the Affordable  Care Act. It will also work with insurance carriers to determine who signed up for coverage and needs an account on the state exchange, which is set to launch in time for the overhaul’s second sign-up period on Nov. 15.

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick hits:

HEALTHCARE.GOV: Lack of Back End Software for Federal Exchange

One of the big news stories in 2013 and early 2014 was the botched launch of the federal Exchange (and several key state Exchanges), which led to many Americans having to wait to be enrolled in an ACA-sanctioned health plan.  Although some technical snafus have been addressed, many still remain.  For example, a top White House official told Congress recently that the automated system to send payments to insurance companies is still under development, and didn't offer a completion date. The lack of an electronic verification process is only one part of the "backend" of the software that is still problematic five years after the Act was passed.

NEVADA: After health care debacle, Gov. Brian Sandoval reluctantly extends Nevada’s ties with Xerox

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:

KENTUCKY: Women leading Kentucky health: Kynect’s Banahan excited to reach even more people

First in a series of profiles about KY women in charge of the state exchange:

Energy exudes from Carrie Banahan when she talks about her work with others to bring affordable health care to more than half a million Kentuckians.

“I worked all my life to see this happen, that we can provide affordable health insurance to people, and it has actually happened,” she said. “I am thrilled that we are actually helping people in Kentucky. It is the highlight of my career.”

Banahan is executive director of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange, which the state has branded as Kynect, partly to avoid identification with the pejorative nickname Obamacare. She shares the credit for its success.

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:

MARYLAND: An Amazing Healthcare Revolution Is Happening In Maryland — And Almost No One's Talking About It

The Maryland ACA exchange has been one of the "middle-tier" models in my view; not an utter disaster like the ones in Oregon or Massachusetts, but still riddled with technical problems like the ones in Minnesota & Vermont. However, the state has apparently had a different healthcare-related initiative which has been a huge success so far:

Through innovative methods and a data-centric approach, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, has become the cornerstone in Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's ambitious makeover of the state's healthcare programs.

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:

ARKANSAS:

Mark Pryor shows Democrats how they should campaign on the Affordable Care Act in a red state. You don't have to mention Obamacare (which technically doesn't even exist), you don't have to even mention the Affordable Care Act. You do have to personalize what the law actually means for real people with real medical issues which were fixed or improved by the law:

Read more on this ad & angle from Greg Sargent of the Washington Post.

VERMONT:

Over at the CT Mirror, Arielle Levin Becker does the same type of wonky number-crunching that I specialize in here at ACASignups.net to figure out whether the state's recent claims of the ACA slashing their uninsured rate in half (from 8% to 4%) hold water.

It gets a bit involved, but her conclusion is that yeah, it probably has been cut significantly, but a specific percent number is hart to pinpoint since there's still a lot of noise on the ESI side as well as continuous churn across the board as people move on & off of different plans.

However, it does include a few nuggets which help me update my own data. For one thing, CT's SHOP enrollment has gone up from 500 as of February to a whopping...602 people last month:

Access Health also operates an exchange for small businesses, although uptake has been low. As of mid-July, it covered 602 people.

Republicans Back Off Using Obamacare as Issue

"Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party's favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch," Bloomberg reports.

"The shift -- also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana -- shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed."

Imagine that.

Minnesota continues to quiet down, with only 110 more QHPs added in the past 4 days, but over 3,200 more added to Medicaid via ACA expansion:

latest enrollment numbers

August 17, 2014

Health Coverage Type Total Enrollments 
Medical Assistance 176,416
MinnesotaCare 64,238
Qualified Health Plan (QHP) 53,647
TOTAL 294,301

Healthy Michigan Plan Enrollment Statistics

Beneficiaries with Healthy Michigan Plan Coverage: 364,929
(Includes beneficiaries enrolled in health plans and beneficiaries not required to enroll in a health plan.)

*Statistics as of August 18, 2014 
*Updated every Monday at 3 p.m.

Here's an educated guess as to the possible impact on Michigan's uninsured rate:

I haven't posted much the past few days, partly because of a lack of major ACA news, partly because I'm busily playing catch-up with my day job (I do have one, believe it or not), and partly because all the oxygen has been (rightly) sucked out of the news atmosphere the past week or so by the slow-motion trainwreck called "Ferguson, Missouri".

So, I was a bit surprised to see my name and this site figure heavily as a source by Megan McArdle over at BloombergView, in an article called "More Bad News for Obamacare". McArdle has decided to pick up the "Massive Attrition!!" ball which I debunked last week and run with it, citing me as a source several times (including using me as her source for the news of the HHS Dept. dropping off-season enrollment reports)...and yet completely ignoring my entire point:

on net, they expect enrollment to shrink from their March numbers by a substantial amount -- as much as 30 percent at Aetna Inc., for example.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how insurance providers in Connecticut requested rate changes ranging up to 12.8%...but the approved rate increase, overall, appeared to only be around 4.5% when weighted by market share. However, that was based on the assumption that the largest provider, Anthem BCBS, would end up with an approved average of around a 6% increase.

Today, it was revealed that Anthem's actual rate changes for 2015 will be an average of 0.1% lower:

Anthem, the state’s largest insurer, initially requested approval to raise rates by an average of 12.5 percent. But the insurance department rejected the proposal and asked the company to resubmit its plan using different calculations.

The result: An average premium decrease of 0.1 percent for Anthem customers.

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