Last night President Biden raised a lot of eyebrows during a 60 Minutes segment in which he was being interviewed while walking through the Detroit Auto Show:
Scott Pelley: "Mr. President...first Auto Show in three years...is the pandemic over?"
President Biden: "The pandemic is over...we still have a problem with COVID...we're still doing a lot of work on it...but the pandemic is over...If you notice, no one's wearing masks; everyone seems to be in pretty good shape...and so I think it's changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it."
Then, today, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who I had hoped would try to walk back and/or clarify the President's statement, instead doubled down on it:
U.S. Health Sec. Xavier Becerra supported a surprise comment over the weekend from President Joe Biden, who declared the pandemic over.
"The president is correct," Becerra told Yahoo Finance Monday.
Maryland Insurance Administration Approves 2023 Affordable Care Act Premium Rates
Reinsurance Program Continues Positive Impact on Individual Rates, Keeping Rate Increases Below Inflation
BALTIMORE – State Insurance Commissioner Kathleen A. Birrane today announced the premium rates approved by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) for individual and small group health insurance plans to be offered in the state for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
The rates for individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will change/increase by an average of 6.6% this year. The approved rates are 4.4% lower on average than insurance carriers originally requested – a difference of more than $50 million in total annual premium savings for Maryland consumers.
It's been five months since my last attempt to estimate a grim but vitally important number: Just how many Trump voters vs. Biden voters have become fatal victims of the GOP/FOX News coordinated anti-vaxx/anti-mask campaign to date, and what sort of impact might this end up having on the midterm elections this November?
As I said at the time, I'm not going to attempt to justify this cynical bean counting anymore...the evidence is now overwhelming that Republican leadership, in coordination with outlets like FOX News and other right-wing outlets, made a conscious decision in spring 2021 to push hard against Americans getting vaccinated against COVID-19 for purely cynical political math reasons.
And yes, that's literally how the headline is worded in the official press release (via email, no link yet):
Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on House Republicans Introducing Legislation to Rip Away Women’s Access to Contraception and Abortion Medication
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement on House Republicans introducing legislation to deny women essential medications:
“Denying women the care they need is un-American—in fact, it’s dangerous. That sums up the latest move in Congress to try to take away women’s access to prescription medication for reproductive health. Under federal law, patients have the right to access the health care they need, free of discrimination. The Biden-Harris Administration will vigorously advance and protect women's rights to essential health care. We won’t hesitate to enforce the law.”
Below is a summary of the actions HHS has taken to ensure access to reproductive health care following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision:
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced approval of the Oregon Health Authority’s proposal to cover community-based mobile crisis intervention services in Medicaid. Made possible by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the new first-in-the-nation Medicaid State plan amendment will allow Oregon to provide community-based stabilization services to individuals experiencing mental health and/or substance use crises throughout the state by connecting them to a behavioral health specialist 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
(LANSING, MICH) State of Michigan health leaders are advising Michiganders that a Texas federal judge’s decision in Braidwood Management Inc. v. Xavier Becerra does not currently change the preventive care to which they are entitled under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Though the Braidwood ruling does not take immediate effect, and proceedings are ongoing, this case could ultimately have long-term impacts on the ACA and the health of Americans nationwide.
Back in May, Washington State was among the first to post their preliminary 2023 avg. individual market rate changes. At the time, there were 14 insurance carriers potentially offering 2023 plans, with a weighted average rate increase of around 7.2%.
Today, the Washington State insurance commissioner has posted a press release with final/approved 2023 premium rate changes, and the weighted average is actually a point higher (8.2%).
There's a caveat: Only 12 of the 14 carriers participating in the WA individual market are included; the other two, which are selling ACA plans off-exchange only, are still under review. However, those two carriers only make up around 0.6% of the total market, so that doesn't impact the overall average by more than a negligible amount.
State regulators have reduced the 2023 rates a bit from the original requests for some carriers (Bridgespan, Coordinated Care, Regence) but have increased them for others (Kaiser Foundation, LifeWise, Molina, Premera). A couple were kept pretty much identical to what the carriers had requested: