Charles Gaba's blog

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, except for Utah, which comes from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to JHU not breaking the state out by county but by "region" for some reason.

I've made some more changes:

  • Every county except those in Alaska lists the 2020 Biden/Trump partisan lean; Alaska still uses the 2016 Clinton/Trump results. I define a "Swing District" as one where the difference between Biden & Trump was less than 6.0%. FWIW, there's just 188 swing districts (out of over 3,100 total), with around 33.8 million Americans out of 332 million total, or roughly 10.2% of the U.S. population.
  • For the U.S. territories, Puerto Rico only includes the case breakout, not deaths, which are unavailable by county equivalent for some reason.

With these updates in mind, here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Friday, February 12th, 2021 (click image for high-res version).

Blue = Joe Biden won by more than 6 points; Orange = Donald Trump won by more than 6 points; Yellow = Swing District

This was already announced earlier, but here's the formal press release with some more details for Minnesota residents:

MNsure three-month special enrollment period begins Tuesday

  • Interested Minnesotans should visit MNsure.org to learn more

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Starting Tuesday, MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance marketplace, will open a three-month special enrollment period. During this time, any Minnesotan who is not currently enrolled in a plan through MNsure, including those who are uninsured, can take advantage of this enrollment opportunity. MNsure's special enrollment period runs from Tuesday, February 16, to Monday, May 17. Those who enroll in a plan during the special enrollment period will have coverage that begins on the first of the following month. For example, Minnesotans who select a plan and enroll in February will have a March 1 start date.

via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid:

2021 Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Coverage Starts on HealthCare.gov Monday, February 15

  • SEP allows consumers to enroll in affordable health coverage during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

 Today, in accordance with the Executive Order signed by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the Health Insurance Marketplace® will officially be available to consumers in the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform on Monday, February 15, and will continue through Saturday, May 15. At least 13 States plus the District of Columbia, which operate their own Marketplace platforms, have decided to offer a similar opportunity.

DC Health Link, the District of Columbia's ACA exchange, has released a new 2021 Open Enrollment report, and while the numbers aren't surprising, they're also a bit fuzzy for a couple of reasons.

Officially, the new report states that 19,997 DC residents selected an individual market ACA exchange plan, up just 65 people over last year's 19,932 (+0.3%). However, there's several factors which make this a bit misleading:

Five weeks ago the Maryland Health Connection announced they were re-opening ACA enrollment through March 15th in light of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

When the Biden Administration announced a few weeks later that the federal ACA exchange, HealthCare.Gov, was planning on re-opening enrollment across 36 states for a full 3 months (from Februay 15th - May 15th), however, I was pretty sure that it would only be a matter of time before most of the state-based exchanges matched up with that time window...and sure enough, via the MD Health Connection:

GOV. HOGAN ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF STATE HEALTH INSURANCE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD UNTIL MAY 15

A couple of weeks ago I reported that the Washington Healthplan Finder was the one of the first state-based ACA exchanges to announce their own COVID19 Special Enrollment Period to coincide with the federal one being launched via HealthCare.Gov.

At the time, I wrote:

Washington State's appears to be for anyone who'd otherwise be eligible during Open Enrollment, which amounts to the same thing as full Open Enrollment. That means even those who are already enrolled in an ACA exchange plan will be able to switch to a different plan mid-year.

Well, so much for that; the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has issued a new press release ahead of the February 15th COVID SEP launch clarifying who's eligible and who isn't:

New Special Enrollment Period for Health Coverage Opens February 15

 

Nearly six years ago:

In other words, only about 10% (at most) of those still in the Medicaid Gap could remotely match the GOP's cliche of a "lazy, good-for-nothing layabout" type who's able-bodied, has no serious extenuating circumstances and so forth. The "get off your ass and work!" requirements appear to be nearly as big a waste of time and resources as the infamous "drug testing for welfare recipients" bandwagon which a bunch of states jumped on board over the past few years.

With this press release from AccessHealth CT, 49 states +DC have now announced some sort of 2021 COVID-19 Enrollment Period:

ACCESS HEALTH CT ANNOUNCES A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD FOR UNINSURED RESIDENTS DUE TO ONGOING PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

I just received confirmation from Vermont Health Connect that they're joining nearly every other state in offering an official COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period...with a few caveats:

Special Enrollment Period for Uninsured Vermonters Opens February 16, 2021

Waterbury, VT— In alignment with the Federal initiative, the State of Vermont is re-opening a special enrollment period on February 16, 2021 to offer Vermonters who do not currently have health insurance an opportunity to enroll in a qualified health plan and receive premium and cost-sharing assistance, if eligible. Intended to facilitate access to health insurance, the special enrollment period is being implemented in partnership with qualified health plan issuers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, MVP Health Care, and Northeast Delta Dental. To enroll, Vermonters should call the Customer Support Center at 1-855-899- 9600 Monday through Friday, 8:00AM – 4:30PM.

An unsurprising but still very welcome development in the Endgame of the ongoing #TexasFoldEm #ACA lawsuit:

NEW: Biden admin tells Supreme Court that ObamaCare remains constitutional even without a tax penalty to enforce the individual mandate—a reversal from Trump admin's position

https://t.co/pjNWCaSgf4

— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) February 10, 2021

Here's the full text of the letter sent to the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court by Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler. It's actually pretty cut & dry for this sort of legal document:

Dear Mr. Harris:

(updated 2/12/21 w/final approximate data from DC & VT)

With a 3-month COVID Enrollment Period about to launch in most states (and already ongoing in a few), this is another good point to take a look at how the official 2021 Open Enrollment Period went on a state-by-state basis.

Note that the table below still, frustratingly, only includes partial data for California and no data at all for New York or Rhode Island. I hope to have final data for several of these soon, but in the meantime this is the best I can do:

This Just In via NJ Governor Murphy and Get Covered New Jersey:

Governor Murphy Announces Health Insurance Signups In New Jersey Surpass Previous Two Years

  • Urges Residents to Get Covered During New COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period
  • 9.4% Increase in Plan Selections from 2020, Enrollment Remains Open Until May 15

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced that health insurance signups through New Jersey’s new state-based marketplace surpassed the Open Enrollment Period for the previous two years in New Jersey. Plan selections for 2021 coverage increased 9.4 percent over last year’s Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period, as the state successfully expanded access to health coverage through its new state-based marketplace, Get Covered New Jersey, during its first open enrollment period.

Earlier this evening, the House Ways & Means Committee formally published the markup of nine legislative provisions which, if they all survive the process, will make up roughly half of President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, aka the American Rescue Plan:

The Ways and Means’ proposals comprise half of the $1.9 trillion Democratic COVID-19 relief package

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) announced the Committee will consider nine legislative proposals under the budget reconciliation instructions this week as the next step in delivering COVID-19 relief to the American people. Beginning on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. through Friday, February 12, 2021, the Committee will markup proposals spanning from extending unemployment insurance to expanding the child tax credit to delivering another round of direct assistance to struggling Americans.

Just over a month ago, I noticed that the Washington Healthplanfinder was touting the fairly impressive launch of their new "Cascade Care" healthcare plans overall (40% of new enrollees were choosing them!)...but that completely missing from all the praise was any breakout of how many were selecting the Public Option version of "Cascade Care"...likely for a very good reason:

Let's step back a moment: There's actually up to three types of policies being offered depending on the carrier:

  • Qualified Health Plans (QHPs)...these are the normal policies which comply with ACA regulations offered by most carriers.
  • Cascade (Standard)...these are QHPs which also follow another state law passed last year (see below), and
  • Cascade (Select)...these are Standardized QHPs which are also public option plans.

Here's the distinction between Cascade "standard" and Cascade "select":

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, except for Utah, which comes from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to JHU not breaking the state out by county but by "region" for some reason.

I've made some more changes:

  • Every county except those in Alaska lists the 2020 Biden/Trump partisan lean; Alaska still uses the 2016 Clinton/Trump results. I define a "Swing District" as one where the difference between Biden & Trump was less than 6.0%. FWIW, there's just 188 swing districts (out of over 3,100 total), with around 33.8 million Americans out of 332 million total, or roughly 10.2% of the U.S. population.
  • For the U.S. territories, Puerto Rico only includes the case breakout, not deaths, which are unavailable by county equivalent for some reason.

With these updates in mind, here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Friday, February 5th, 2021 (click image for high-res version).

Blue = Joe Biden won by more than 6 points; Orange = Donald Trump won by more than 6 points; Yellow = Swing District

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