Maine

Over at Talking Points Memo, Amy Fried notes that something really, really stupid was just fixed in the state of Maine:

But LePage has also tried to take advantage of a wording error with the 2013 law funding energy efficiency programs. While lawmakers wanted $60 million spent to help homemakers use less energy heating their homes, the snafu would have reduced that to $22 million—less than half.

The text error in Maine involved just one word left out—"and." However, it wasn’t just the wording that mattered but also a decision from a body controlled by his appointees, the Maine Public Utility Commission, that ruled 2-1 that there would be far less money for efficiency projects than legislators wanted.

The error came down to this, according to the Portland Press Herald:

I don't post about the state of Maine very often, and given that their Governor is an utter nutbag that's usually a good thing. Tonight, however, I'm happy to report that at least 2 of the 34 states at risk of losing their federal tax credits in the event of a King v. Burwell plaintiff win next month are seriously prepping to "establish" a state-based exchange if need be (Pennsylvania is the other one):

In a unanimous vote, the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee endorsed the effort to maintain the health insurance premium subsidies that are offered as tax credits through the Affordable Care Act. Those credits are being challenged in a federal lawsuit known as King v. Burwell, which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next month.

I'm kicking myself for not writing up a full post on this issue, since it's the issue which most directly connects today's election to ACASignups-specific issues, but thankfully, Sam Stein and Jeffrey Young have done a fantastic job anyway. The key takeaway is this:

There are two threads of conventional wisdom heading into Tuesday's midterm election. The first is that the election doesn't much matter. Regardless which party controls the Senate, President Barack Obama will still occupy the White House, which means gridlock will remain, if not escalate. The second is that, when it comes to Obamacare, the status quo will remain in place for at least the next two years. Senate Republicans may push for repeal votes. But Obama will veto them. Smaller reforms may pass. But the law will mostly remain intact.

There's been a lot of fuss made about 2015 ACA exchange premium rates not being available at Healthcare.Gov until after the election. The presumption, of course, is that this is being done for political reasons. While this may be true, it could also simply be that there's a lot of different policy figures to plug into the federal system, and some states haven't even finalized their rates yet.

That being said, residents of some states can check out the 2015 premiums now and compare them against their current premium:

IDAHO: Idaho is the only state moving from HC.gov to their own exchange. Idaho residents can check out their 2015 rates directly via the state exchange site.

CALIFORNIA: CoveredCA has 2015 rates available right now as well.

As with my recent Alabama post, in which BCBS of Alabama stated that they're seeing an 82% payment rate out of an 87% market share, this is not proof absolute for Maine, but it's the best guideline we have for the state at the moment: In yesterday's Congressional testimony, executives for Wellpoint, the 2nd largest insurer in the country, stated that 90% of their exchange QHP enrollments have been paid so far. I took a look at the states Wellpoint operates in; there's a good dozen or so, and their market share varies in each one, but there's one, Maine, where they had a whopping 74% market share last year.

UPDATE: On the down side, I was off by 4% this time around.

On the up side, I UNDERESTIMATED:

Actual Feb. enrollments: 942,833, for a total of 4,242,325 thru 3/01/14.

Sarah Kliff at Vox just announced that the February HHS report is expected to be released today at around 4:00pm. A few items in anticipation of that:

  • As I've noted several times, I'm projecting the report to total around 902,000 exchange-based private QHP enrollments for the month of February (technically 2/02 - 3/01)
  • If accurate, this would bring the cumulative total of exchange-based private QHP enrollments to 4.202 million (from 10/1/13 - 3/01/14)
  • From the data I have, the average daily enrollment rate in February was almost identical to that of January, which had about 1.146 million QHP enrollments. HOWEVER, the January report included five weeks of data (12/28 - 2/01), while the February report will only include four weeks (2/02 - 3/01). Therefore, even at the same daily average, it'll be about 20% lower no matter what.
  • Don't be surprised if Peter Lee of CoveredCA decides to steal some thunder by announcing that California has enrolled 1,000,000 QHPs all by itself either today or tomorrow. However, that would include the past 10 days, while the HHS number will only run thru 3/01.
  • If you want to get REALLY specific, call it 902,800 and 4,202,292.
  • I've been dead-on target 6 times in a row without hyping up my projections beforehand. This time I am hyping myself up beforehand, so I'll probably be way off...but as long as I've UNDERestimated the tally, I'll be perfectly fine with that...
  • The report will be released in about 5 minutes, but my kid gets home from school in about 10, so it'll be a good 20 minutes before I can really post anything. Feel free to follow Sarah Kliff of Vox in the meantime!

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