Charles Gaba's blog

via Connect for Health Colorado:

Connect for Health Colorado Offers More Savings to More Coloradans on Health Insurance Costs

Many Residents Can Find Coverage for Just A Few Dollars a Month

DENVER – Starting today, Thursday, April 15, Coloradans seeking health insurance can access more savings as a result of the American Rescue Plan (also known as the “COVID relief package”) when they shop through Connect for Health Colorado®. The American Rescue Plan expanded financial help for health insurance plans that people buy via the federal and state health insurance exchanges through 2022. And, for the first time, ever, Colorado individuals and families of all income ranges can qualify for reduced premiums.

“We’re ready and eager to provide these savings to more Coloradans who need relief right away,” said Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson. “I encourage those who need coverage to sign up. If you were unable to obtain financial help in the past, now is the time to re-apply. You might be surprised how much you can save.”

What’s Different Now?

 

So, the American Rescue Plan includes two important provisions whch I've been fighting for for years: #KillTheCliff and #UpTheSubs. The only downside is that, for now at least, these ACA enhancements are only included for two years (including 2021...the beefed-up & expanded subsidies are retroactive to January 1st of this year).

As a reminder (this is like the 20th time I've posted a table like this), here's the official ACA subsidy formula compared to the improved formula under the American Rescue Plan (ARP):

Note: The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is 15% higher per household in Hawaii and 25% higher in Alaska.

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.

Important:

  • Every county except those in Alaska lists the 2020 Biden/Trump partisan lean; Alaska still uses the 2016 Clinton/Trump results (the 2020 Alaska results are only available by state legislative district, not by county/borough for some reason...if anyone has that info let me know)
  • I define a "Swing District" as one where the difference between Biden & Trump was less than 6.0%. FWIW, there's just 187 swing districts (out of over 3,100 total), with around 33.7 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 those caveats in mind, here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, April 14th, 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 (Biden or Trump won by less than 6 points)

A few weeks ago, I noted that one of the numerous ACA-related provisions of the American Rescue Plan was this one:

Put simply, subsidized enrollees last year received around $6.3 billion in "excess subsidies"...they underestimated their income for the year 2020 and would normally be required to pay them back, but the ARP is waiving that "clawback" of overpayments for one year only in response to the pandemic.

Again, these are subsidies which were already paid out in 2020. The money is already in the hands of the enrollees (well, technically it's in the hands of the insurance carriers, but that in turn freed up an equal amount in the bank accounts of the enrollees, anyway). This provision simply says that the enrollees don't have to pay it back.

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.

UPDATE 4/13/21: An earlier version of this post had misinterpreted Linda Blumberg's estimate how much S.499 would cost--I thought that the $350 billion estimate was the gross projected 10-year cost without taking into account the impact of eliminating Silver Loading, but it turns out that it's the net cost after taking that into account as well. My apologies for such a bone-headed error.

Having said that, there's still the possibility of up to $196 billion in additional savings elsewhere, so it's still worth discussing the relative costs of both proposals and seeing whether both, or at least parts of both, could still be worked into the American Families Plan. I've significantly reworked the the wording of the post accordingly.

This was apparently decided awhile ago (there was no press release), but I just learned about it today thanks to Louise Norris:

Nevada’s Response to Coronavirus

Nevada Health Link opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for uninsured Nevadans, starting February 15 through August 15, 2021. The SEP is in accordance with the Executive Order issued by President Biden last month, in response to the ongoing national emergency presented by COVID-19.

  • Coming soon! Thanks to the recently passed American Rescue Plan, we’ll soon be offering more money to help pay for your coverage. Learn more here.

Visit here to learn more.

Nice catch by Andrew Sprung. Via the NJ Dept. of Banking & Insurance:

EXTENSION OF COVID-19 SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD

On January 29, 2021, the Department of Banking and Insurance (“Department”) issued Bulletin No. 21-03 advising carriers and other interested parties that an emergency COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period (“COVID-19 SEP”) would go into effect on February 1, 2021 and extend through May 15, 2021. The COVID-19 SEP ensured that New Jersey residents have access to quality affordable health insurance during a critical time in which the need to protect public health is paramount. Specifically, the COVID-19 SEP made sure that individual market coverage was available to uninsured individuals during the pandemic. It also aligned New Jersey with the Federal Special Enrollment Period which runs through May 15, 2021 and the Federal Public Health Emergency.

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