American Rescue Plan

CMS Logo

Thanks to Amy Lotven of Inside Health Politics for the heads up:

CMS Thursday (July 15) announced a new advertising campaign that will run in the final 30 days of the special enrollment period slated to end Aug. 15, and the agency also confirmed Inside Health Policy’sreport that the agency plans to auto-adjust tax credits for consumers who do not return to the federal marketplace starting Sept. 1.

Sure enough, this press release was put out by CMS earlier today:

Oklahoma

Here's the official press release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

Oklahoma's Medicaid Expansion will Provide Access to Coverage for 190,000 Oklahomans

  • Nearly 120,000 People Will Begin Receiving Full Medicaid Benefits on July 1

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that approximately 190,000 individuals between the ages of 19-64 in Oklahoma are now eligible for health coverage, thanks to Medicaid expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  On June 1, 2021, the state began accepting applications, and to date, over 120,000 people have applied for and were determined eligible to receive coverage.  On July 1, these individuals will receive full Medicaid benefits, including access to primary and preventive care, emergency, substance abuse, and prescription drug benefits. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Oklahoma is eligible to receive additional federal funding for their Medicaid program, estimated to be nearly $500 million over two years. It is estimated that an additional 70,000 people in Oklahoma who have not yet applied are now eligible for coverage under Medicaid.

Washington HealthPlan Finder

This just in from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange...

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) reports that tens of thousands of Washingtonians now pay less each month for healthcare coverage. Within two months of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) becoming federal law, the Exchange passed on the expanded savings it made available to new and current customers on the state’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder.

“There has never been a better time to sign up for healthcare coverage in Washington,” said Pam MacEwan, Chief Executive Officer of the Exchange. “We’ve been hearing from people across the state who are saving hundreds or in some cases more than a thousand dollars per month.”

Tracy Roberts from Seattle posted to Facebook, “I just opened my bill for July and it’s $242 less than I presently pay . . . That’s incredible! Absolutely incredible and completely unexpected. Life will be a little easier for now.”

Platinum Blonde

Last week I gave a heads up about the imminent launch of the American Rescue Plan's "Unemployment Insurance Benefit" provision at HealthCare.Gov:

This, again, is a Big Deal for this year. Paired with the beefed-up APTC table, what it means is that if you're on unemployment this year you effectively don't have to pay anything for a benchmark Silver plan. I'm not sure if you have to be unemployed for the full year or not...the wording above sounds like even someone who's only on unemployment for one or two weeks would still be counted as having 133% FPL.

Sure enough, just about anyone who is either currently receiving unemployment benefits or who did earlier this year (or later this year, for that matter) is likely eligible for a FREE ($0* Premium) Silver CSR 94 plan...otherwise known as #SecretPlatinum:

Platinum Blonde

Back in March, I noted that one of the more interesting provisions of the American Rescue Plan is that anyone who receives unemployment benefits at any time during calendar year 2021 is eligible for maximum ACA subsidies:

Sec. 9663 – Application of premium tax credit in case of individuals receiving unemployment compensation during 2021

For 2021, provides advanced premium tax credits as if the taxpayer’s income was no higher than 133 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) for individuals receiving unemployment compensation as defined in section 85(B) of the Internal Revenue Code.

This, again, is a Big Deal for this year. Paired with the beefed-up APTC table, what it means is that if you're on unemployment this year you effectively don't have to pay anything for a benchmark Silver plan. I'm not sure if you have to be unemployed for the full year or not...the wording above sounds like even someone who's only on unemployment for one or two weeks would still be counted as having 133% FPL.

Back in January, I posted a story about the ACA subsidy improvements to be included in the then-pending American Rescue Plan (ARP). At the time, I noted what seemed to be a pretty big scoop:

...there's also another small but critical detail included in the table above which escaped my attention last summer in H.R. 1425.

Take a look at the first line of Rep. Underwood's 2019 version (H.R 1868):

  • Over 100.0 percent up to 133.0 percent

Now take a look at the first line under both H.R. 1425 and H.R. 369:

  • Up to 150.0 percent

Notice the difference? I'm not talking about the "up to 150%" part. I'm talking about the removal of the "Over 100.0 percent" part.

If this were to pass the House & Senate and be signed into law by President Biden using this exact language, it would apparently eliminate the Medicaid Gap...albeit with a couple of major caveats.

American Rescue Plan Savings - Family of 4

Last month I posted an explainer with a bunch of colorful graphs & charts explaining how much various households could save thanks to the expanded/enhanced ACA subsidies included with the American Rescue Plan. I included 8 different households, using the national average ACA benchmark plan premium for 2021:

  • Single Adults age 26, 40, 50 and 64
  • Single Parent; Nuclear Family; Empty Nesters w/College-age kid; 60-yr old couple

Here's how much the "Nuclear Family of four" example (40-yr old ocuple with 2 children) would theoretically save, assuming they choose the avg. national benchmark Silver plan:

 

A couple of weeks ago I went on a bit of a rant about some terribly irresponsible reporting about how much the American Rescue Plan is spending on subsidizing private health insurance and how many people that money is expected to provide insurance premium assistance for.

The bottom line is that a whole lot of people got both the numerator and denominator wrong: Instead of being ~$53 billion to cover ~1.3 million people (which would be an insane $40,000 per person for just six months), it's actually more like ~$61 billion to help cover ~18.6 million people (roughly $3,300 per person per year on average).

The main focus of the post was about how much/how many would be covered under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budet Reconciliation Act):

When the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) achieved final passage on March 10th, it did so almost exclusively along party lines. I say "almost" because there was a single Democratic House member who voted against it: Representative Jared Golden (ME-02).

I fully understand the tightrope that some swing district Dems have to walk. To his credit, Rep. Golden voted to impeach Donald Trump not once, but twice (though he only voted in favor of one of the 2 articles of impeachment against him the first time around). I certainly don't expect every single Democrat to vote the party line on every single bill.

In the end, the bill passed anyway, if only by a handful of votes; my guess is that he even received Speaker Pelosi's unofficial blessing to vote against it, as long as she knew for sure it would pass regardless.

NOTE: SEE SUMMARY TABLE IN UPDATE ALL THE WAY AT THE END.

I'm doing my best to stop myself from putting my head through a wall this weekend.

You may have seen this viral tweet making the rounds over the past day or so:

The Democrats just spent $52 billion to subsidize COBRA for 1.3 million people until September. That’s $40k per person for less than 6 months of health insurance. Most countries spend about $5-6k per person per year for universal healthcare.

— cabral (@axcomrade) March 12, 2021

This was posted at 12:22pm on Friday, March 12th, 2021. It's still live as of 11:00am on Sunday the 14th, has over 32,700 Likes and has been retweeted over 7,300 times as of this writing, but in case it's deleted by the time you read this, here's a screen shot:

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