For months I posted weekly looks at the rate of COVID-19 cases & deaths at the county level since the end of June, broken out by partisan lean (i.e, what percent of the vote Donald Trump received in 2020), as well as by the vaccination rate of each county in the U.S. (nonpartisan). This basically amounts to the point when the Delta Variant wave hit the U.S., although it had been quietly spreading under the radar for a few months prior to that.
More recently, I switched to posting the same data starting on December 15th, which is (roughly) the start of the Omicron variant wave (although this is fuzzier than the start of the Delta wave).
For years now, I've been a tireless advocate for dramatically expanding & improving the Affordable Care Act's Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) formula. This is the table which determines a) just how generous the ACA's health insurance premium tax credits are at different income levels and b) how far up the income ladder those financial subsidies extend.
Just over a year ago, the American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Democrats in Congress and signed into law by President Biden, did exactly what I've been clamouring for all this time: It made ACA subsidies far more generous while also removing the completely arbitrary income eligibility cut-off threshold (otherwise known as the "Subsidy Cliff."
As a refresher, the way the ACA subsidies work is as follows:
More than 65,000 Access Health CT enrollees would be impacted
HARTFORD, Conn. (March 16, 2022) — Access Health CT (AHCT) today announced that more than 65,000 Connecticut residents would be negatively impacted by reduced or eliminated financial help for health insurance if the increased financial assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) expires at the end of 2022.
The $178 million per year ($14.8 million per month) of assistance residents receive through ARPA will end unless the enhanced premium tax credits continue past 2022 through federal legislation.
“Ending increased financial help would have a significant impact on Connecticut residents,” said James Michel, Access Health CT Chief Executive Officer, “including progress made toward addressing health disparities. The American Rescue Plan Act makes health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible – greatly reducing the impact of social determinants of health.”
Over the past two years, I've run a lot of county-level COVID data analysis. I've plotted the data as scatter-plot graphs and bar graphs, and I even created a couple of animations which showed how the data changed over time.
Last November, while creating one of these animations, I also noticed something which made my jaw drop. I talked about it at the time, but it didn't seem to generate as much interest as I thought it merited, so today I'm plotting the data using a different layout: A simple line graph of COVID-19 death rates in the deepest Red and deepest Blue counties of the United States, plotted over time. As a bonus, in the process, a few other useful points revealed themselves visually as well.
DENVER— Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, is accepting applications from new and returning organizations, as well as licensed Brokers, to operate Assistance Sites and Enrollment Centers across the state.
“Assistance Sites and Enrollment Centers provide a crucial one-on-one service to help Coloradans get covered,” said Connect for Health Colorado’s Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Patterson. “They help us make sure local communities, especially those who face barriers to health coverage, can access the plans and savings we offer. I encourage interested organizations and current partners to apply for this opportunity.”
For a long time now, I've been tracking & graphing COVID data at the county level, which provides a more granular look at how things are progressing on both the vaccination front as well as in terms of case & death rates. After all, there are plenty of other sources tracking & reporting state-level data.
However, once in awhile it's not a bad idea to step back and compare the two, which I'm doing today.
Starting in 2023, Health Connector coverage will include new benefits, protections, and reduced cost-sharing to advance health equity objectives. The Health Connector is among the leaders of state-based marketplaces in leveraging its plan certification process to explicitly advance and invest in targeted health equity priorities.
Informed by state and national health policy research and data, and stakeholder engagement, Health Connector staff identified health equity concerns in the health coverage landscape and designed its 2023 Seal of Approval plan certification process to advance objectives tailored to address those equity issues.
Of all the problems the ACA has encountered over the 11 years since it was first signed into law by President Obama, one of the stupidest and most irritating ones had nothing to do with Republican sabotage. The call on this one was made by the IRS (then under the Obama Administration), based on their interpretation of a few bits of language within the legislative text itself back in 2013: The Family Glitch.
We still get calls on a regular basis from people who are shopping for individual insurance because adding dependents to their employer plan is prohibitively expensive. We estimate that roughly 20 percent of the people who contact us are in this situation.