Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Tuesday that it will narrow its choices for individual Affordable Care Act plans in Iowa and will eliminate ACA individual plans in South Dakota altogether in 2017.
First, some clarification: Wellmark isn't on the exchange to begin with, and wasn't planning on joining it in SD next year, so this is a rare case of a carrier dropping their off-exchange individual market offerings. Since all of Wellmark's indy enrollees in South Dakota are paying full price, this one can't be blamed on APTC enrollees being sicker than average, etc.
Last month I noted that while South Dakota hadn't posted their ACA-compliant 2017 rate filings yet, they had posted their grandfathered/transitional filings, and decided to take a look at those. While GF/TR plans are down to a pretty nominal number in most states (and about half the states don't have any transitionals at all at this point), SD still has a huge portion of their individual market enrolled in them (over 1/3, from what I can tell).
Only 4 carriers appear to be participating in the ACA-compliant individual market in South Dakota next year: Aetna, Sanfrod, SD State Medical and Welmark. I only have the enrollment numbers for 3 of the 4, but the requested rate hike for the fourth one (Sanford) is pretty close to the average of the other three anyway, so it shouldn't really impact the overall average by much:
It's been nearly 2 weeks since the last update to my 2017 Requested Rate Hike project. While I've locked down the requested increases for 35 states and the District of Columbia, the remaining 15 states seem to be pretty quiet about their 2017 rate filings. Today, however, I'm able to fill in at least half of the puzzle for one state: South Dakota.
To the best of my knowledge, there are only 6 carriers offering policies on the SD indy market: Avera, DakotaCare (off-exchange only), Sanford, SD State Medical, Celtic and Wellmark BCBS. It's worth noting that DakotaCare is in the process of being bought out by Avera, but I'm not sure whether they'll be submitting separate filings or not.
A special session for Medicaid expansion will have to wait, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Wednesday.
After a weeks-long effort to lobby enough lawmakers to get the proposal approved in the Statehouse, Daugaard announced in a statement that he wouldn't call lawmakers back to Pierre.
Citing the upcoming presidential election that could result in substantial changes to the federal health insurance program for needy people, Daugaard said a special session was off the table.
“We have a good plan that would increase health care access at no additional state cost and guarantee that the federal government won’t shift its responsibility to pay for Native American health care to the state,” Daugaard said in a statement. “Still, I have heard from legislators that they would like more time to study this plan and in particular want to wait to consider the issue until after the presidential election. For that reason, I will not be calling a special session to take up this issue.”
Unlike the exchange QHP enrollments, which will always continue to be the heart and soul of this website (it's right there in the name, after all), I've kind of gotten away from trying to track Medicaid expansion on a granular level over the past few months. The main reason for this is that in many of the expansion states, they've simply maxed out on enrollees, and the numbers from week to week or even month to month are simply holding steady at this point.
South Dakota may join 30 other states in expanding its Medicaid program if federal officials approve a plan Gov. Dennis Daugaard is set to outline to the nation’s top health and human services administrator in Washington on Tuesday.
The Republican governor is meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to explain the plan, and the federal government has so far been more open to discussions than in the past, said Tony Venhuizen, chief of staff to Daugaard. The proposal, which is in its early stages, would make about 48,500 South Dakota residents newly eligible for the program.
The twist this time is that the Indian Health Service, which provides healthcare coverage for around 2 million Native Americans nationally, would be involved:
A few weeks ago, I crunched the (minimal) enrollment/rate numbers for South Dakota and came up with a fairly ugly weighted average rate hike of 27.4% (ouch). Being such a small state & population, there are only 5 insurance companies total offering individual policies either or off the exchange: Avera, Sanford, Welmark, Celtic and SD State Medical Holding, otherwise known as "DAKOTACARE" for some reason (and no, I refuse to capitalize the whole thing in the headline).
This evening Louise Norris informed me that DAKOTACARE has made 2 rather startling changes of plan: First, they're dropping off of the ACA exchange and will only be selling policies off-exchange...and instead of their previously-requested 18-20% rate hike, they've suddenly decided that they have to jack up rates an eyebrow-raising 63% next year.
In an election where people like me are practically begging Democratic candidates in blue states to campaign on the Affordable Care Act, this is a jaw-dropping development.
South Dakota's Senate race normally would be considered a yawner. While the state does have a history of electing the moderate Democrats from time to time, it's pretty red for the most part, and no one was expecting Democrat Rick Weiland to have much of a chance against former Republican Governor Mike Rounds.
However, in an interesting development, independent candidate Larry Pressler has jumped into 2nd place in a recent poll. The thing is, Pressler isn't some no-name small timer; he's already a former U.S. Senator, serving for 3 terms before losing to Democrat Tim Johnson in 1996.
With Johnson retiring, his seat is open, and Pressler wants it back, so he's jumped back into the game. Here's the thing, though: Pressler used to be a Republican. In South Dakota.
Unless Illinois acts quickly, it will leave hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table that would go toward building its own health insurance marketplace, potentially upping the cost of coverage for nearly 170,000 Illinois residents. State lawmakers, unable to break a years-long standoff, have not passed a law authorizing a state-based exchange, the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act that allow consumers to compare and buy health coverage, often with the help of federal tax credits. As a result, Illinois was one of 36 states that relied on the federal government to host its marketplace on HealthCare.gov, the website that survived a disastrous launch late last year to enroll about 217,000 Illinoisans, 77 percent of whom received federal help.