Time: D H M S

If you've been following this site for awhile, you know that for the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, I sort of partnered up with two grassroots healthcare advocacy groups: ACA Consumer Advocacy and the Indivisible ACA Signup Project. We created and disseminated a whole mess of blue-themed Open Enrollment infographics, in both English and Spanish, for all 50 states and the District of Columbia via our websites, social media and even in print via downloadable PDF versions distributed across various public locations.

Anyway, with Open Enrollment officially wrapping up in the final 3 states (well, 2 states + DC) on Wednesday, Jan. 31st, they shared a few metrics, which I'm proud to repost here as well:

Thread: So, about those blue images. We partnered with @2018ACASignup to try to help offset #ACASabotage around enrollment. Kinda impressed with how the whole thing worked. Here are some numbers:


Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan Move to Target Health-Care Costs

Three corporate giants are teaming up to combat what billionaire Warren Buffett calls a “hungry tapeworm” feasting on the U.S. economy: health care.

OK, I'm interested...

Amazon.com Inc., Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said they plan to collaborate on a way to offer health-care services to their U.S. employees more transparently and at a lower cost. The three companies plan to set up a new independent company “that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” according to a short statement on Tuesday.


If you look at The Graph for the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, you'll notice that in addition to the large green section (Qualified Health Plan (QHP) selections across the 39 Healthcare.Gov states) and the smaller blue section (QHP selections across the 12 State-based exchanges), there's a much smaller burgundy slice at the top labelled "BHPs (MN/NY only). This represents around 820,000 people in Minnesota and New York only who are enrolled in Basic Health Plans, or BHPs.

Last August, I woke up at 3am with excruciating pain in my abdomen on my right side. I tried to "walk it off" (bad cramp?), go to the bathroom (bad gas?), force myself to throw up (low-level food poisoning?) and drank a big glass of water (dehydration?) all to no avail. In utter agony, I finally had my wife wake up our son so she could drive me to the emergency room. I was especially worried because of the location of the pain; I feared I might be suffering from appendicitis, which is, of course, potentially deadly if not treated immediately. Even if it wasn't, it hurt like hell.

About five hours, an IV pain medication drip and a CT scan later, I was sent on my way back home with a less serious diagnosis: A kidney stone. Nasty and painful, but not generally fatal (although they can be if left untreated too long, causing sepsis).

A few weeks later I got the bill: $600. Not a lot of fun to pay of course, but it was much better than the official cost of the ER visit: $6,000. BCBSMI paid the other 90% of the cost.

A huge shout-out to Ken Kelly for calling my attention to this press release which was apparently sent out way back on December 19th???

Vermont wraps up 2018 open enrollment for Vermont Health Connect

News Release — Department of Vermont Health Access
Dec. 19, 2017

Vermonters who Didn’t Complete Plan Selection Urged to Call this Week

WATERBURY, VT – State officials reported that nearly 23,000 Vermonters had confirmed a 2018 health plan and qualified for financial help to make the plan more affordable. Total enrollment in qualified health plans, which typically includes 46,000 small business employees and 11,000 individuals who don’t qualify for financial help, is expected to surpass 80,000. While enrollment will be similar to past years, this year’s earlier deadline means fewer members will experience gaps in coverage. In past years, nearly 2,000 members missed out on January coverage.

As I announced a couple weeks back, I spent most of the past week attending the annual Families USA healthcare conference in Washington, D.C. The conference has been going on for many years, but this is the first time I attended, so it was a big deal for me.

Here's a little background on the organization:

Families USA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer health advocacy organization. It was co-founded in 1981 by attorney Ronald Pollack, its current executive director, and Philippe Villers, the organization’s current president. Families USA is an influential advocate in Washington, D.C., and has played a leading role on virtually every major piece of health care legislation, especially the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), numerous Medicaid measures, and the Medicare Part D plan.

(Update: Ron Pollack stepped down last year; Frederick Isasi is the new Executive Director)

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