New York State of Health

via NY State of Health:

Press Release: NY State of Health Enrollment Continues to Climb, More New Yorkers than Ever Benefitting from Affordable Health Coverage; New Yorkers Save Money on Health Coverage with American Rescue Plan Enhanced Tax Credits

MNsure Logo

MNsure may have ended their "no reason needed" Special Enrollment Period (SEP) a few days ago, but anyone qualifying for a traditional SEP is still eligible...and this year, that includes anyone who's on unemployment at any point during 2021:

Did You have Unemployment Income in 2021? You may Qualify for Health Insurance with a $0/Month Premium 

July 20, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesotans who received unemployment income at any time in 2021 now can access extremely low-cost health insurance through MNsure.

The new benefits were implemented as part of the American Rescue Plan legislation enacted earlier this year. New federal subsidies for private health insurance on MNsure act as an instant discount for consumers, lowering the cost for monthly premiums. Some Minnesotans can find a plan with a premium as low as $0 per month.

Hawaii

Every year, I spend months tracking every insurance carrier rate filing for the following year to determine just how much average insurance policy premiums on the individual market are projected to increase or decrease.

Carriers tendency to jump in and out of the market, repeatedly revise their requests, and the confusing blizzard of actual filing forms sometimes make it next to impossible to find the specific data I need. The actual data I need to compile my estimates are actually fairly simple, however. I really only need three pieces of information for each carrier:

  • How many effectuated enrollees they have enrolled in ACA-compliant individual market policies;
  • What their average projected premium rate change is for those enrollees (assuming 100% of them renew their existing policies, of course); and
  • Ideally, a breakout of the reasons behind those rate changes, since there's usually more than one.

Usually I begin this process in late April or early May, but this year I've been swamped with other spring/summer projects: My state-by-state Medicaid Enrollment project and my state/county-level COVID-19 vaccination rate project.

COVID-19

(Updated as of 7/18/21)

For nearly a year, I posted a weekly analysis of the 100 U.S. counties (out of over 3,100 total) which had the highest cumulative rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita. In addition, I also included a running graph which compared the ratio of COVID cases & deaths per capita between blue and red counties to track how this changed over time.

The results were extremely telling: In the early days of the pandemic back in March/April 2020, the blue counties were devastated for a variety of reasons, including heavy population density, the fact they were mostly located along the coasts (usually in cities with major international ports/airport hubs), and so forth. Democrats tend to live in heavily-populated urban areas, while Republicans are prone to live in more sparsely-populated rural areas, so this made sense.

For the first few months, both case and death rates were running as much as 4-5x higher in counties which voted solidly for Hillary Clinton in 2016/Joe Biden in 2020 than in those which voted for Trump in either 2016 or 2020.

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:

Energy & Commerce Committee

 

I'm finally pulling myself out of my self-imposed COVID Vaccination Graphing project, and this seems like a good place to start: Earlier today, the House Energy & Commerce Committee held markup hearings for not one, not two, but nineteen different healthcare-related bills...some major, some minor, but all of them are kind of interesting. I don't really know much about any of these so I'm just posting the initial description of most of them, though in a few cases which catch my eye I'll go a bit more in depth:

  • H.R. 4369, the "National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act"

To amend the 21st Century Cures Act to provide for designation of institutions of higher education that provide research, data, and leadership on continuous manufacturing as National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, and for other purposes.

Access Health CT Logo

via Access Health CT:

The Access Health CT American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period has saved Connecticut residents more than $4.5 million in health insurance costs since May 1

  • Connecticut residents have one month left to enroll.
  • More than 33,000 enrollees have received new financial help, saving approximately $4.5 million dollars in total.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) made health insurance coverage more affordable for many Connecticut residents by virtually eliminating or vastly reducing monthly payments (premiums) for people with low and moderate incomes.

HARTFORD, Conn. (July 15, 2021) — Access Health CT (AHCT), Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace, is reminding Connecticut residents they have one month left to enroll in health insurance coverage during the American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period ending August 15.

DC Heatlh Link

Washington, DC­­ –The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board voted to adopt recommendations from its Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group, in an effort to stop racism in health care. These recommendations are focused on three crucial areas in order to establish practices, structures, and policies that can be implemented by DCHBX and DC Health Link health plans to (1) expand access to providers and health systems for communities of color, (2) eliminate health outcome disparities for communities of color, and (3) ensure equitable treatment for patients of color in health care settings and in the delivery of health care services. There are 100,000 people and more than 5,200 employers with private health insurance coverage through DC Health Link.  DCHBX is responsible for DC Health Link – the Affordable Care Act on-line health insurance marketplace in DC.  The recommendations are for coverage through DC Health Link. However, several recommendations will also benefit residents not covered through DC Health Link.  

Medicaid Expansion map

As I (and others) have written many times, closing the so-called "Medicaid Gap" is one of the trickiest challenges President Biden and Congressional Democrats face when it comes to strengthening and improving the Affordable Care Act.

Once again: Under the ACA, all Americans earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)... roughly $17,700/year for a single adult or around $36,500 for a family of four...were supposed to be eligible to join Medicaid regardless of their health status, whether they had kids and so forth.

This was supposed to be the case in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (I'm not sure about Puerto Rico or the other U.S. territories...many ACA provisions never applied to them in the first place).

Unfortunately, one of the major consequences of the NFIB vs. Sebelius Supreme Court Case in 2012 was that expansion of the Medicaid program has to be voluntary on the part of each state.

COVID-19

 

I'm presenting snippets of these stories without much comment because...really, there's not much more for me to add:

Via Brett Kelman of the Nashville Tennessean, two days ago:

Tennessee fires top vaccine official as COVID-19 shows signs of new spread

The Tennessee state government on Monday fired its top vaccination official, becoming the latest of about two dozen states to lose years of institutional knowledge about vaccines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The termination comes as the virus shows new signs of spread in Tennessee, and the more-transmissible delta variant surfaces in greater numbers.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, said she was fired on Monday afternoon and provided a copy of her termination letter. It provides no explanation for her termination.

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