HHS Dept

No snarky headline here. After weeks of speculation, President-Elect Joe Biden made it official this morning:

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has selected Xavier Becerra, the Democratic attorney general of California, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, tapping a former congressman who would be the first Latino to run the department as it battles the surging coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Becerra became Mr. Biden’s clear choice only over the past few days, according to people familiar with the transition’s deliberations, and was a surprise. Mr. Becerra has carved out a profile on the issues of criminal justice and immigration, and he was long thought to be a candidate for attorney general.

But as attorney general in California, he has been at the forefront of legal efforts on health care, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled by his Republican counterparts. He has also been vocal in the Democratic Party about fighting for women’s health.

Not sure how this slipped by me earlier today...I've been so busy trying to figure out the 2016 rate increases for each state that I missed this report from HHS about the 2015 premium and competition changes at Healthcare.Gov (this doesn't include the state-based exchanges, but still covers 2/3 of the states and 3/4 of total private enrollments):

Competition and Choice in the Health Insurance Marketplace Lowered Premiums in 2015

The Health Insurance Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act allows consumers to compare health insurance plans based on key factors, such as covered services, providers, and importantly, price. According to a report released today, choice and competition increased in the 2015 Marketplace and consumers benefitted as new issuers entered and price competition intensified. In 2015, 86 percent of Marketplace-eligible consumers could choose from at least three issuers, up from 70 percent in 2014.