Michigan

Michigan

As regular readers know, for over a year now, I've been tracking the spread of COVID-19 per capita case and death rates a) at the county (not just state) level and b) along partisan lines.

The most obvious example of this has been my weekly updated breakout of the RATIO between the case & death rates over time in "Blue Counties" (those won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton, later replaced by those won in 2020 by Joe Biden, by at least 6 points or more) vs. the rates in "Red Counties" (those won by Donald Trump in 2016, late replaced with 2020 results, by 6 points or more).

As of last week, that graph looked like this:

Michigan

It's no secret that as a) a lifetime Michigan resident and b) an openly activist Democrat, I'm a huge fan of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (I was even on a healthcare town hall panel with her back in 2017 during the Repeal/Replace debacle). Having said that, I'm still impressed with the announcement just put out by the MI Dept. of Insurance & Financial Services:

Michigan Insurers on HealthCare.Gov Provide Consumer Flexibility

(LANSING, MICH) Through an agreement announced today between Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), and all nine of Michigan’s Marketplace insurers, Michiganders enrolled in a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace can now take advantage of expanded tax subsidies offered by the American Rescue Plan without having to restart their deductibles when they switch to another plan offered by their current insurer, and in some cases even if they choose a plan through another insurer.

I've noted before that enrollment in Michigan's ACA Medicaid expansion program, "Healthy Michigan", has risen sharply over the past year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit; it's up by over 1/3 since last February.

However, it's also worth noting that non-ACA Medicaid enrollment has also jumped significantly since the pandemic arrived. I've dug into data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Michigan's Health Dept. archives and put together the graph below, showing that non-ACA Medicaid enrollment has risen from around 1.66 million Michiganders in February 2020 to over 1.92 million today, a 16% increase.

Combined, total Medicaid enrollment is up by around 21% to over 2.82 million as of April 2021.

I should also note that in addition to this, 267,000 Michiganders enrolled in ACA exchange coverage during the 2021 Open Enrollment Period, of which a good 90% (240,000)paid their first monthly premium based on past ACA data. At the time I noted that around 83% were subsidized, or perhaps 200,000.

I last updated my Michigan Medicaid expansion tracking back in January.At the time, I noted that enrollment in this ACA programhas increased dramatically here in Michigan since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, increasing from 673,000 in February 2020 to 853,000 as of January 2021, or nearly 27% in less than one year.

As of April 5th, the Healthy Michigan program (that's the branding of Michigan's ACA Medicaid expansion) notes 897,261 enrollees. That's a net increase of 224,000 Michiganders enrolled in the program since last February, or over 33%.

With this as backdrop, consider the timing of the following events:

Back in November I noted that enrollment in Medicaid via ACA expansion has increased dramatically here in Michigan since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, increasing by 23% from 673,000 in February 2020 to 829,000 in November.

Today the Michigan Dept. of Insurance & Financial Services just issued the following press release:

More than 1 Million Michiganders Obtained 2021 Health Coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Healthy Michigan Plan

(LANSING, MICH) After an extensive joint outreach campaign by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), more than 1 million Michiganders obtained health coverage for 2021 during the Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period or through the state’s expanded Medicaid program. 

Health Insurance Town Halls Offered to Michigan Consumers with Questions about Open Enrollment 

Thousands of Michiganders have lost health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is offering virtual town hall events to help answer questions about open enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace, which runs until Dec. 15.  

These live online town hall meetings are part of a series of events that will help consumers learn and ask questions about signing up for a health plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace. To attend a virtual town hall event, click the event link at its start time. Instructions for attendees are available and explain how to join an event and ask questions. 

Event Information: 

Over at Xpostfactoid, my colleague Andrew Sprung has been doing a great job of tracking ACA Medicaid expansion enrollment growth since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this past February/March at the macro (national) level, by looking at around a dozen states which have monthly reports available. He puts the overall enrollment growth rate at 23.6% from February thorugh October 2020.

Instead of replicating his work, I decided to take a closer look at individual states, starting with my own: Michigan. The graph below shows how many Michiganders have been actively enrolled in our Medicaid expansion program (Healthy Michigan) every month since it was launched in April 2014 (we had a 3-month delay in the program due to the state legislature refusing to implement the new law with immediate effect; I have no idea why):

October 12, 2020:

LANSING – Emergency orders Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act are struck down, effective immediately, the Michigan Supreme Court said Monday in a 4-3 order that added an exclamation mark to an Oct. 2 ruling.

...Monday's Supreme Court ruling is in response to a lawsuit brought by the Michigan Legislature. The Oct. 2 ruling, which was a 4-3 decision striking down the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, was in response to questions sent to the court by a federal judge handling a lawsuit brought by medical service providers in western Michigan.

Monday's ruling means hundreds of thousands of Michiganders could lose their unemployment benefits "in a matter of days," Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said. Among the orders struck down, and not replaced by a health department order, is one that extended Michigan unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, up from 20.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, hailed the ruling.

Way back in July (a lifetime ago!), Michigan's Dept. of Financial Services posted the state's preliminary 2021 individual & small group rate filings. At the time, the average premium changes being asked for were around a 1.3% increase on the individual market and 1.4% on the small group market.

Last week, a few days ahead of the launch of the 2021 Open Enrollment Period, they posted the approved 2021 rates...and there's almost no changes at all. The only significant change was to Meridian's request, which was dropped from a 2.7% increase to a 5.6% decrease. Also, National Health Insurance dropped out of the Small Group market, but they don't appear to have anyone enrolled this year anyway:

10/29/20: SEE UPDATE BELOW.

A month ago, incumbent Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and his Republican challenger John James were both interviewed as part of a Detroit Regional Chamber series on several issues, including healthcare policy and the ACA.

As I noted at the time:

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