Time: D H M S

I'm not really able to post a full analysis at the moment, but here's the final officlal OE5 enrollment numbers from Massachusetts:

Total enrollment:

  • 2018 – 263,026 enrolled + 7,662 plans selected = 270,688
  • 2017 – 253,146 enrolled + 10,863 plans selected = 264,009

New enrollments:

  • 2018 – 55,565
  • 2017 – 56, 977

Massachusetts is the 16th state to surpass last year's numbers, and the 11th state-based exchange (if you include Federally-facilitated SBMs).

UPDATE: Hmmm...according ot the official CMS report, Massachusetts actually enrolled 266,664 people into QHPs via their exchange last year, so they're only up 1.5% year over year, but it's still great news, espcially given how low their uninsured rate was to begin with.

Press Release: Governor Cuomo Ensures Medicaid Coverage for DACA Recipients Regardless of Federal Action
If Congress Does Not Act to Protect DACA, New York DACA Recipients will Remain Eligible for State-Funded Medicaid

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy will remain eligible for state-funded Medicaid, regardless of any federal changes to or termination of the program. There are approximately 42,000* DACA recipients in New York, many of whom are at risk of losing their employment-based health insurance if the federal government changes or terminates the program. Under New York law, DACA recipients are considered PRUCOL (Permanently Residing Under Color of Law) and eligible for state-funded Medicaid or CHIP.

Note: This is slightly lower than my own spitball estimate of around 50,000 DACA recipients.


OK, it's been a lonnnnnnng week (and it's only Tuesday!), so it's time for something a little different...

U.S. Rep Pat Meehan said Tuesday he had developed a deep “affection” for a younger aide and told her that he saw her as “a soul mate” as they talked over ice cream one night last year, but in an interview with the Inquirer he said he never pursued a romantic relationship with the woman, who later accused him of sexual harassment.

Meehan, a Delaware County Republican, also acknowledged that he initially reacted “selfishly” when he found out the aide, decades younger than him, had entered into a serious relationship with another man, and shared a heartfelt, hand-written letter he wrote to her in May wishing her well, but also thanking God “for putting you into my life and for all that we have seen and experienced and genuinely shared together.”

He also said he intends to continue running for reelection in Pennsylvania’s Seventh District.

Last Thursday Hannah Recht alerted me to an internal slideshow presentation at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange which included rough final Open Enrollment numbers for Washington State, totally around 242,800 people.

Today the WA exchange has issued a formal press release with the official numbers, which are...exactly 50 enrollees higher than that:

Washington Healthplanfinder Closes Open Enrollment with Record 242,000 Sign-Ups
Health plan selections spike eight percent over last year, dental plan selections jump 12 percent

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Health Benefit Exchange announced today that more than 242,000 customers signed up for Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through Washington Healthplanfinder by the close of open enrollment on Jan. 15 – an eight percent increase over the previous year.

Yesterday I correctly noted that Congressional Republicans took around 9.6 million hostages during budget negotiations: 8.9 million children enrolled in the CHIP program, and 690,000 DACA recipients (aka Dreamers)...young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were minors (or even infants in some cases), and who are at risk of being deported stating in March thanks to Donald Trump rescinding their status for no particular reason.

After negotiations with the kidnappers broke down last Friday, the Dems tried to rescue all 9.6 million hostages, but were only able to free the 8.9 million children; the remaining 690,000 young adults are still being held hostage by the GOP as I write this, and negotiations for their futures are still murky.

However, I forgot about a few other hostages still being held as well:

This won't have too much effect until November (aside from more mentions of Special Enrollment Periods, I presume), but this is EXTREMELY welcome news for ACA supporters; 


WHEREAS, a primary goal of my administration is to ensure that every New Jerseyan has access to affordable health insurance and none of our residents are unable to see a doctor when they are sick; and

WHEREAS, the Affordable Care Act represented a huge step forward in ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey turned down a substantial amount of federal funding when it declined to create a state-based exchange that would have been customized to the needs of New Jersey residents, and given the State greater flexibility in its enrollment period; and

WHEREAS, over 275,000 New Jerseyans currently receive health insurance coverage on the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act; and

Covered California Announces Continued Strong Enrollment and Reminds Consumers That Penalty Remains in Place Through 2018

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s requirement that consumers have health insurance remains in place, and consumers may face stiff tax penalties if they are not covered in 2018.
  • A recent study estimates 70 percent of consumers, who are uninsured and eligible for financial help, could purchase health insurance coverage for less than the price of the tax penalty.
  • Most consumers are paying less in monthly premiums than they did a year ago.
  • More than 342,000 consumers have newly enrolled during the current open-enrollment period, which remains ahead of last year’s pace, and continues in California through Jan. 31.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced new enrollment figures as it approaches the final weeks of the annual open-enrollment period, and sought to quell consumer confusion by clarifying the federal penalty rules in place for 2018.

That's really about the simplest way I can summarize the situation today:

Daily on Healthcare: Dems agree to deal to reopen government, fund CHIP

by Philip Klein , Robert King and Kimberly Leonard | Jan 22, 2018, 12:52 PM

Dems agree to deal to reopen government, fund CHIP.

It looks to me like after his short-lived 2016 Presidential campaign (seriously, it only lasted 70 days...heck, even Lincoln Chafee's campaign lasted twice as long), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker decided to go back to shoring up his image in his home state...and since Wisconsin is one of 14 states which doesn't have any term limits for the top spot, it looks like he's scrambling to move back to the center policy-wise just in time to run for a third term this November:

Scott Walker proposes plan to prop up Obamacare marketplace

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has been around for 21 years. It was co-created in a bipartisan way in 1997 by Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Orrin Hatch, with support from Hillary Clinton while she was First Lady of the United States.

CHIP was originally funded as a 10-year program. When the original funding ran out in 2007, it was extended for two years (to 2009) under George W. Bush with little incident (he had previously vetoed an expanded version but later signed the extension of the existing version).

Under President Obama, CHIP was extended (and expanded) again through 2013. The Affordable Care Act added another 2 years to CHIP, extending funding through 2015. In 2015, CHIP funding was extended again, through September 30, 2017.

The completely GOP-controlled Congress allowed CHIP funding to expire. Most state still had a few months worth of money held in reserve for the program, but some started sending out termination notices to the parents of enrollees, letting them know that they'd be kicked off the program within the next month or two.

via Covered California, yesterday:

  • An analysis of potential premium changes in states across the nation shows increases of 16 to 30 percent likely in 2019 if federal steps are not taken.
  • While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s subsidies would largely insulate subsidized consumers from these costs, millions of unsubsidized consumers would pay the full price of these increases. Many would likely be priced out of coverage.
  • Continued policy and premium uncertainty risks further carrier withdrawals, leaving more consumers with only one health plan and even the prospect of “bare counties.”
  • The analysis reviews three federal policy options that could stabilize markets and mitigate the impact of premium increases in many states.
  • Covered California’s open-enrollment period is still underway and consumers have through Jan. 31 to sign up for coverage.

Flashback to September 24, 2013:

The United States federal government shut down for the first 17 days of October 2013 because Ted Cruz and other Congressional Republicans, furious about the Affordable Care Act surviving everything they had thrown at it over the preceeding 3-4 years, thought that pulling the plug would torpedo the launch of the ACA's first Open Enrollment Period.

Unfortunately for them, that simply wasn't in the cards:

Rather, any defunding would be temporary, because of a government shutdown. On the day the exchanges were due to open, much of the federal government would go offline, including a big portion of the Health and Human Services Department that is running the coverage expansion. But legislative inaction cannot gut Obamacare in the way that legislative action could. During a shutdown, implementation would “substantially” continue.

That’s according to a Congressional Research Service report prepared for Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican. In no small part, the reason is that much of the Affordable Care Act’s financing comes from mandatory spending, rather than discretionary spending, and a continuing resolution concerns only the latter. Moreover, some of the law’s money comes from multiyear or “no-year” discretionary funds that do not get wrapped up in the continuing-resolution process either. The Health and Human Services Department says its reform implementation fund would not get touched by a lapse in appropriations.

A few days ago I reported that the Washington Health Benefit Exchange had enrolled 234,000 people in private policies for 2018 when they had just a couple of days left to go.

Today Hannah Recht provided a link to this WA state navigator meeting in which rough final numbers were included as part of the slideshow presentation, along with a bunch of other data points which should be of interest to other healthcare/navigator wonks. 242,800 is a rough number but assuming it doesn't get changed by much, it means the Apple State enrolled 7.6% more people in QHPs this year than last, with nearly 1/3 of them being new to the WA exchange.

Washington State was already beating their 2017 numbers anyway, so this update just pads their lead.

UPDATE: Arrrrgh!!! Literally moments after I went live with this, Hannah Recht pointed out to me that the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has (unofficially) posted their (rough) final 2018 enrollment numbers via an internal slideshow presentation. The table and all numbers below have been updated to reflect the additional 8,800 enrollees added in WA over the final few days of its enrollment period.

UPDATE 1/22/18: Covered California has just issued a major update to their enrollment data, adding another 122,000 QHP selections to the national tally. Everything below has been updated to include this.

UPDATE 1/28/18: The deadline for Massachusetts has passed and they've posted their final numbers. Everything below has been updated to reflect this update.

No official link or press release yet, but This Just In from Politico NY's Dan Goldberg...

.@charles_gaba new numbers from NY

243,600 -- qhp surpassing last year's
726,300 in the Essential Plan

— Dan Goldberg (@DanCGoldberg) January 18, 2018

Last year, New York State of Health enrolled a total of 242,880 people in ACA exchange policies; this means they're slightly ahead of that number with two weeks left to go before the January 31st Open Enrollment deadline. This makes NY the fifteenth state to surpass last year's total...as well as the 7th State-based Marketplace (or the 10th if you include SBMs which are piggybacking on the federal exchange platform). I'll be writing something up about that later today.