ACA Coverage

  • Reports: ACA coverage reached more than 9 million, By Kaitlyn Krasselt, July 15, 2014, USA Today: “Far more people are insured because of the Affordable Care Act than the White House estimated in May, new research shows. At least three new studies on the ACA’s effect show big increases in the number of newly insured Americans, with the highest estimate topping out at 9.5 million from the Commonwealth Fund. That compares with the 8 million reported by the White House in May. It’s hardly all good news for the administration’s efforts, however. Analysts from the Rand Corporation estimate that while 14.5 million people gained coverage in the last year, about 5 million people were insured before the ACA and lost coverage because of the law — leading to a net gain of around 9 million. . .”
  • Groups under Health Act are said to aid millions, By Abby Goodnough, July 15, 2014, New York Times: “More than 4,400 consumer assistance programs created under the Affordable Care Act helped an estimated 10.6 million people explore their new health insurance options and apply for coverage during the initial six-month enrollment period, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But the programs that operated in states with their own online insurance marketplaces got more funding and helped more people than those in states on the federal exchange, the survey found. In the District of Columbia and 16 states that ran or were working toward running their own exchanges, the programs helped about twice as many people, relative to the uninsured population, as they did in 29 states served by the federal exchange. . .”

Part-Time Work

  • A part-timer boom, or blip? By Robert Samuelson, July 16, 2014, Washington Post: “There may be a dark lining to the sunny June employment report, which recorded an increase of 288,000 payroll jobs for the month. Most — or all — of the increase may have been part-time jobs. If that’s a trend, it could signal a weaker economy. It could also vindicate critics of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or Obamacare). They have argued that the added costs of providing health insurance for full-time workers would cause many firms to emphasize part-time employment. Is it a trend? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mortimer Zuckerman — real estate developer and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report — says yes. Some data seem convincing. In June, part-time jobs (defined as less than 35 hours a week) increased by 1,115,000, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); full-time jobs fell by 708,000. . .”
  • Yes, some people are working part-time. No, that’s not a disaster for the recovery. By Jared Bernstein, July 18, 2014, Washington Post: “By many indicators, the recent job market is clearly improving. It still has a long way to go, but the pace of employment growth is up and unemployment has fallen sharply in recent months. Importantly, the recent decline in the jobless rate has been for the right reason: people getting jobs as opposed to people leaving the labor market (since only jobseekers are counted as unemployed, if they give up the job search, the unemployment rate is artificially lowered). Still, those in the business of disparaging the ‘Obama recovery’ latched onto the spike in part-time work in the last jobs report as an indicator that the silver lining has a dark cloud around it. Based on the rise in part-time jobs in June, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece complained. . .”
  • Part-Time Workers Deserve the Shift, Not the Shaft, By Megan McArdle, July 17, 2014, Bloomberg View: “The plight of low-wage retail workers has generated much talk in recent years. As I’ve written before, I don’t find problematic the existence of jobs that do not pay enough to support a family. Retail jobs have never paid well, because retail margins tend to be pretty slim. The problem is not that retail is a low-wage job, but that an increasing number of people can’t find any other sort of job. The natural response of many people is to say, well, these are the jobs we have now, so they should pay what factory jobs used to. Yet like the manufacturing jobs that went away, many of those low-wage retail jobs also face competition — from higher-productivity firms. . .”

Medicaid Enrollment

Millions enrolling into Medicaid, now what? By Lisa Bernard-Kuhn, June 26, 2014, Cincinnati Enquirer: “In the coming days Charles McClinon will learn whether he’s a candidate for a potentially lifesaving surgery, a procedure the 50-year-old epileptic says is finally an option for him thanks to expanded Medicaid benefits in Ohio. ‘I’m so hopeful now,’ said the Roselawn resident, who four years ago suffered a serious fall during a seizure that sent him to the emergency room and then into the spiral of medical morass that eventually cost him his job, health insurance and Chicago home. ‘I had always been a very highly functional person living with epilepsy, but after the fall, my seizures had gotten so bad, I just didn’t have the strength and awareness to fight,’ said McClinon. Across the U.S., millions of Americans are tapping into newly available Medicaid benefits. Some, like McClinon, say the coverage offers the chance . . .”

ACA Sign-up Period

Study: Selling health insurance at Christmas is bad idea, By Louise Radnofsky, June 26, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Tax preparers and some other advocates have complained for a while that the health law’s insurance sign-up period is timed wrong. Now they have a paper in the journal Health Affairs to back them up. Asking lower-income people to contemplate buying coverage around the holiday season is a bad idea, because their decision-making capacity is stretched too thin, say two health policy professors. Crafters of the Affordable Care Act originally envisaged the open enrollment period as a fall activity that would coincide with the sign-up periods for Medicare and also the time when many Americans who get coverage through their jobs have to renew their elections. . .”

Health Care Exchanges

Competition heats up on health care exchanges for 2015, By Jayne O’Donnell and Kaitlyn Krasselt, USA Today: “Insurance companies are gingerly moving onto health care exchanges in some competition-deprived states, and they are requesting rate increases that are largely in line with pre-Obamacare years, state filings show. A few big and many smaller insurers avoided the 2014 state- and federal-run health care exchanges that sold individual insurance plans as required under the new law. Some blame these insurer absences for higher rates than many people expected under the Affordable Care Act, but that’s likely to change for the 2015 plan year, experts say. ‘There’s a lot more competition now than there was prior to the advent of the ACA . . .”

Medicaid Expansion

  • In Texarkana, uninsured and on the wrong side of a state line, By Annie Lowrey, June 8, 2014, New York Times: “On a hazy, hot evening here, Janice Marks ate a dinner of turkey and stuffing at a homeless shelter filled with plastic cots before crossing a few blocks to the Arkansas side of town to start her night shift restocking the dairy cases at Walmart. The next day, David Tramel and Janice McFall had a free meal of hot dogs and doughnut holes at a Salvation Army center in Arkansas before heading back to their tent, hidden in a field by the highway in Texas. None of the three have health insurance. But had Ms. Marks, 26, chosen to sleep on the side of town where she works, or had Mr. Tramel and Ms. McFall, who are both in their early 20s, made their camp where they had eaten their dinner, their fortunes might be different. . .”
  • Long waits persist for those applying for Medicaid coverage in many states, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2014, Washington Post: “While an unprecedented 6 million people have gained Medicaid coverage since September, mostly as a result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 1.7 million more are still waiting for their applications to be processed — with some stuck in limbo for as long as eight months, according to officials in 15 large states. The scope of the problem varies widely. California accounts for a lion’s share of the backlog with 900,000 applications pending as of early June. The next-biggest pileup is in Illinois, with 283,000 cases, while New York has no backlog at all. All three states have implemented the health law’s expansion of Medicaid . . . “

Medicaid Enrollees

Cook County releases 1st snapshot of new Medicaid patients, By Peter Frost, June 2, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “New data released in May offer the first look at the health, habits and demographics of about 100,000 new enrollees in Cook County’s expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The picture it paints is bleak. More than half the new patients covered by Cook County’s Medicaid expansion program haven’t seen a doctor in the past 12 months. Eighty-five percent of them are unable to obtain needed medications. Nearly one-fourth have spent time in a hospital in the past six months and an additional 1 in 5 are worried about finding a place to stay in the near future. They suffer from heart disease, high cholesterol. . .”

State Medicaid Expansion

  • Medicaid surge triggers cost concerns for states, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, May 26, 2014, Associated Press: “From California to Rhode Island, states are confronting new concerns that their Medicaid costs will rise as a result of the federal health care law. That’s likely to revive the debate about how federal decisions can saddle states with unanticipated expenses. Before President Barack Obama’s law expanded Medicaid eligibility, millions of people who were already entitled to its safety-net coverage were not enrolled. Those same people are now signing up in unexpectedly high numbers, partly because of publicity about getting insured under the law. . .”
  • Hearings set for Healthy Indiana Plan expansion, By Associated Press Staff, May 25, 2014, Miami Herald: “Two public hearings are scheduled this week on Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to use Medicaid funds to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to provide insurance under the federal health care overhaul. The Family and Social Services Administration said the hearings will be held Wednesday and Thursday on the state government campus in downtown Indianapolis. Wednesday’s hearing begins at 9 a.m. in Conference Center Room B at the Indiana Government Center South. Thursday’s begins at 1 p.m. in Room 156-B at the Statehouse. The FSSA also announced Friday that it has posted a draft of the proposed Medicaid waiver to pay for the HIP expansion and other related documents on the Healthy Indiana Plan website at http://www.hip.in.gov/ . . .”

Safety Net Hospitals

An Obamacare winner: Safety-net hospitals, By Phil Galewitz, May 24, 2014, USA Today: “At Seattle’s largest safety-net hospital, the proportion of uninsured patients fell from 12% last year to an unprecedented low of 2% this spring — a drop expected to boost Harborview Medical Center’s revenue by $20 million this year. The share of uninsured patients was cut roughly in half this year at two other major safety net hospitals — Denver Health in Colorado and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital (UAMS) in Little Rock. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the health law’s expansion of coverage to more than 13 million people this year has been the nation’s safety-net hospitals. . .”

Medicaid Patient Health

Poorer Health of Surgery Patients on Medicaid May Alter Law’s Bottom Line, By Robert Pear, May 17, 2014, New York Times: “Surgery patients covered by Medicaid arrive at the hospital in worse health, experience more complications, stay longer and cost more than patients with private insurance, a new study has found. The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, may offer a preview of what to expect as millions of uninsured people qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Although Medicaid patients in the study were generally younger than the privately insured patients, they were twice as likely to smoke and had higher rates of conditions that made surgery riskier. Those conditions, which can arise from years of poor health habits, include diabetes, lung disease and blood vessel blockage. . .”

ACA and Medicaid Expansion

  • Medicaid’s new patients: healthier, and maybe cheaper, By Dan Gorenstein, May 9, 2014, Marketplace: “Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act last fall, some five million more Americans have enrolled in the nation’s healthcare program for low-income people. With only half the states expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, researchers believe that number would double if all 50 states moved ahead, and several new reports suggest it may be cheaper for states to go ahead than previously estimated…”
  • Pa. plan to cover the uninsured back on track?, By Amy Worden and Don Sapatkin, May 8, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Signaling progress in its negotiations with the federal government, the Corbett administration said Thursday that it expected by January to launch its plan to provide health-care coverage for more than 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who lack insurance. Officials said they were so confident that the program would be up and running by Jan. 1 that they had decided to start soliciting contract proposals from private insurers. They hope to name at least two insurers for each of nine regions statewide by Aug. 1…”
  • Governor weighs Medicaid options, By Mike Dennison, May 9, 2014, Helena Independent Record: “A coalition of health care and business lobbies, state lawmakers and Gov. Steve Bullock’s office has been quietly discussing options to expand Medicaid in Montana, hoping to craft a compromise on the politically charged topic. ‘I think there are a lot of folks trying to come up with a solution,’ said Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, who’s part of the group. ‘The goals are cheaper cost, better (medical) service and a healthier population…”

ACA and Former Foster Youth

States enroll former foster youth in Medicaid, By Christine Vestal, April 30, 2014, Stateline: “One of the Affordable Care Act’s successes is a provision that allows young people up to 26 years old to remain on their parents’ health insurance. Under a similar, but less-known provision, young adults who have been recently released from foster care can also get Medicaid coverage, regardless of their incomes. An estimated 180,000 foster care alumni became eligible on Jan. 1. About 26,000 young adults 18 to 22 years old are released from foster care each year and left to fend for themselves without state protections. The age that a young adult in foster care loses benefits varies across the states. The new health care provision for former young people without parents in the picture grants them full Medicaid coverage until age 26 in the state where they lived when they left foster care…”

ACA and Medicaid Expansion

  • No Medicaid expansion could create health care gaps, By Kelly Kennedy, April 40, 2014, USA Today: “States that have not expanded their Medicaid programs as part of the Affordable Care Act risk larger-than-ever gaps in overall health between residents of their states and those that have expanded Medicaid, a report released Wednesday shows. Nine of the top 13 states in overall health have expanded Medicaid, while three in the lowest 12 have not expanded, according to the report by the Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit group studying U.S. health care…”
  • Time is growing short for 100% Medicaid match, By Tom Wilemon, April 28, 2014, The Tennessean: “Talks continue between Gov. Bill Haslam’s staff and federal officials about how Tennessee can receive Medicaid expansion money, but time is running out for the state to get the full benefit. Tennessee began losing out on $6.1 million a day on Jan. 1, when the federal government began picking up all the cost for covering people who newly qualify for Medicaid under expanded guidelines — an offer that goes away at the end of 2016. Accepting the federal offer would provide health insurance to an estimated 161,560 Tennesseans, who account for 24 percent of the uninsured adults in this state, according to Kaiser Health News…”

ACA and Medicaid Enrollment

  • Medicaid gets Affordable Care Act bump in Pennsylvania, By Bill Toland, April 21, 2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Pennsylvania’s Medicaid enrollment is up by more than 18,000 people since the Oct. 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act’s online health plan marketplaces. The state’s enrollment bump in the program for low-income families and individuals is small, though it coincides with larger jumps being experienced in other Republican-led states. Supporters of the ACA are crediting the 2010 federal health care overhaul with encouraging more uninsured to examine their health coverage options. Subsequently they discover that they were already eligible for state-funded insurance programs…”
  • Idaho Medicaid enrollment surges, By Audrey Dutton, April 22, 2014, Idaho Statesman: “The number of people on Medicaid in Idaho rose almost 6 percent since the launch of Idaho’s health-insurance exchange last fall even though Idaho is one of the states that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The increase is sharper than usual. That’s partly because more people discovered they qualified for Medicaid during the process of shopping for health insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to be insured…”

ACA and Medicaid Coverage

  • Progress, challenges as Medicaid rolls swell in state, By Lisa Stiffler, April 17, 2014, Seattle Times: “Washington state has blown past its targets for signing up new Medicaid participants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The program’s ranks have grown roughly 25 percent in the past six months, helping fulfill one of the act’s key goals to provide health care to nearly all Americans. By the end of March, more than 285,000 adults who are newly eligible to participate in Medicaid had signed up for coverage. That’s twice the number officials had hoped to reach by then, and a target they hadn’t expected to hit for three more years. But with enrollment success comes the challenge of serving more people in a $10 billion program that’s already stretched thin in places…”
  • Health law push brings thousands into Colo. Medicaid who were already eligible, By Eric Whitney, April 16, 2014, Washington Post: “The big marketing push to get people enrolled in health coverage between October and March resulted in 3 million people signing up for Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of those people were already eligible and could have signed up even before the Affordable Care Act made it much more generous. They came ‘out of the woodwork’ to get enrolled, analysts say, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and publicity around its new marketplaces. In Colorado, nearly 23,000 such people are now getting Medicaid. Their numbers grew Colorado’s Medicaid rolls by 3 percent over last year…”

ACA and Medicaid Coverage – Minnesota, Virginia

  • Minnesota’s uninsured get public aid at historic levels, By Chris Serres, April 13, 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “On a recent weekday evening, Ibrahim Hassan was pacing the narrow corridor outside a Somali mosque in south Minneapolis, buoyantly shaking hands and waving like a politician at a campaign stop. His mission: To sign up every eligible uninsured person he met for public health coverage through the state’s MNsure website. His mobile ‘office’ consisted of a foldout table, a laptop and a small sign that read, ‘We can help you’ in Somali and ‘Obama Care.’ Though much attention has focused on the March 31 deadline to buy private health insurance — and the consumer frenzy that resulted — federal health reform and the debut of MNsure have also led to a historic surge in the number of Minnesotans enrolling in public programs…”
  • Va. Republicans aren’t blinking in showdown over Medicaid expansion, By Laura Vozzela, April 13, 2014, Washington Post: “Virginia Republicans were supposed to be squirming by now. For months, their opposition to expanding Medi­caid under the Affordable Care Act has put them at odds with some traditional allies in the business world. Hospitals, the state chamber of commerce and corporate leaders have been calling, writing, visiting and buttonholing, pushing what they call ‘the business case’ for expanding coverage to thousands of uninsured under the health-care law, with the federal government promising to pay most of the cost. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats who favor expansion have been betting on that pressure to sway Republicans, particularly in rural areas where hospitals are often the largest employer and are ­eager for the financial girding that the coverage expansion would provide…”

ACA and Health Insurance Coverage

  • Number of Americans without health insurance reaches new low, By Noam N. Levey, April 7, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “The share of Americans without health insurance has dropped to the lowest level since before President Obama took office, according to a new national survey that provides more evidence the healthcare law is extending coverage to millions of the previously uninsured. Just 14.7% of adults lacked coverage in the second half of March, down from 18% in the last quarter of 2013, the survey from Gallup found. The survey results, which track with other recent polling data and enrollment reports, indicate that about 8 million people have gained health insurance since September. That figure takes into account any losses in coverage the law may have brought about by the cancellation of health plans that did not meet the new standards…”
  • Nearly 4 million seriously mentally ill still without insurance, By Michael Ollove, April 8, 2014, Stateline: “Some might consider Kelly Troyer of South Carolina lucky. She isn’t one of them. Thanks to the generosity of her church and family members, she receives some treatment for the depression and post-traumatic stress disorder she suffers as a result of the sexual assault she endured in 2012. But Troyer, 45, said her lack of health insurance and other uncovered medical costs, including a hospitalization and all her medications, has forced her into personal bankruptcy. She lives in one of the 24 states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs, offered under the Affordable Care Act. Those decisions have left about 3.7 million Americans with serious mental illness, psychological distress or a substance abuse disorder without health insurance, according to a recent report from the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), a group that represents mental health professionals…”
  • More in Denver signed up for Medicaid than for private insurance, By Arthur Kane, April 10, 2014, Denver Post: “In Denver, 2½ times as many people enrolled in the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program from October through the first quarter of 2014 as those who signed up for private insurance through the state exchange, state figures show. And in Colorado and nationwide, Medicaid enrollments outpace private insurance registrants. Colorado ranked 11th in the nation of states with the highest percentage of Medicaid enrollments compared with private insurance subscribers through marketplaces as of the end of February, a Denver Post analysis of federal numbers shows…”
  • Medicaid enrollment rises 8 percent in Florida, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), April 11, 2014, Florida Today: “Florida’s Republican lawmakers remain staunchly opposed to expanding Medicaid — a system they’ve repeatedly said is too expensive and doesn’t improve health outcomes. Yet Florida’s Medicaid rolls are expanding under the Affordable Care Act. That’s because people trying to sign up for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s new health law are finding out — to their surprise — that they qualify for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor…”

ACA and Medicaid Enrollment

  • Law lifts enrollment in Medicaid by millions, By Robert Pear, April 4, 2014, New York Times: “Enrollment in Medicaid has increased by three million people, to a total of 62 million, largely because of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Friday. As expected, the increases have been much greater in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility…”
  • Medicaid sign-ups are up 3M, By David Morgan, April 6, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Three million lower-income Americans have enrolled in the Medicaid program for the poor so far during the rollout of President Obama’s health-care law, the administration announced on Friday. That brings to more than 10 million the number of people who have signed up for both public and private health coverage since Oct. 1 under the Affordable Care Act. This week, the White House said there were 7.1 million sign-ups as of March 31 for private plans through new web-based marketplaces operating in all 50 states, a total that exceeded most expectations. More were partially enrolled at the deadline and not yet counted…”
  • Medicaid enrollment rises in Florida, nation, By Daniel Chang, April 4, 2014, Miami Herald: “Enrollment in Medicaid rose by about 245,000 people in Florida from October through February , reflecting a national trend as people who were previously eligible but not enrolled signed up for the state-federal health program for low-income Americans, federal officials reported Friday. The increase, which officials linked to the health insurance enrollment process for the Affordable Care Act, comes despite the Florida Legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid…”

Medicaid Expansion – Michigan

Medicaid enrollment to open April 1 despite early roadblocks, By Robin Erb, March 20, 2014, Detroit Free Press: “Michigan’s long-awaited new Medicaid program — one that may extend health care coverage to 470,000 people — will open as planned at 12:01 a.m. April 1, despite bureaucratic and technical frustrations that had left thousands wondering whether the promise of the 2010 Affordable Care Act had left them behind. Expecting a heavy first burst of applications, offices for the Michigan Department of Human Services will extend hours during the first days and phone lines will open from 8 a.m. to midnight to accept applications to the program, called Healthy Michigan…”

Medicaid Expansion – Maine, Nebraska

  • Maine House takes up struggling Medicaid expansion bill, By Mario Moretto, March 18, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “About a week after it passed the Senate, but with less than the two-thirds support needed to muscle past a certain gubernatorial veto, the Maine House of Representatives on Tuesday will consider a bill aimed at expanding Medicaid to more than 70,000 low-income Mainers as part of the federal Affordable Care Act…”
  • Nebraska lawmakers won’t expand Medicaid this year, By Christine Scalora (AP), March 19, 2104, Centre Daily Times: “A proposal to expand health care coverage to low-income Nebraskans won’t make it out of the Legislature this year. Lawmakers fell six votes short of stopping the filibuster on the bill Wednesday after debating the measure for eight hours. It will not be taken up again in this legislative session. The ‘Wellness in Nebraska Act,’ laid out a plan to help cover health care costs for about 54,000 residents by mid-2015 through a combination of Medicaid and subsidized private health insurance. It would cost an estimated $62 million between July of this year and June 2020…”