Governor Hogan: Will You Help?

A bipartisan group of 10 governors has sent a letter to Congress, urging them to “stabilize the private insurance markets.”  The letter goes on to state that, "Stabilizing insurance markets is one of the primary areas where Congress can take action to ensure that consumers have affordable health care options," the letter reads.  Among the missing signatures on this letter is Governor Hogan’s.  

We appreciate his public statements of support for ensuring Marylanders do have health care and we hope that he will take the time to review the recommendations we posed at the recent “Marylanders Speak to Hogan” forum.  Unfortunately, the Governor was not in attendance to hear from Consumer Health First, Strong Schools Maryland, or Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  However, the report has been sent to him and it can be downloaded here. A copy of Consumer Health First’s slides can be downloaded here.

 

MURRAY-ALEXANDER INDIVIDUAL MARKET STABILIZATION BILL

The following Bill summary was issued by Senator Murray's office and can be downloaded here:

This bipartisan agreement to strengthen the health care system will stabilize the markets that millions of families rely on for insurance coverage, reducing the risk of premium spikes and the threat of insurer exits. The bill also mitigates the damage done by the Administration’s sabotage by restoring resources for outreach and enrollment before 2018 open enrollment begins. 

The Murray-Alexander deal would not affect any of the ACA’s core elements – like patient protections, tax credits, essential health benefits – that millions rely on. The major provisions: 

RESTORES CSR PAYMENTS: 

• Restoring CSR certainty is crucial to continued market stability and affordability for families. Insurers have raised rates by as much as 30% as a result for this uncertainty and continue to threaten exit from insurance markets. 

• The agreement restores certainty to health care markets by ensuring cost sharing reductions will be continued through 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

• The agreement includes steps to ensure 2018 enrollees receive the financial benefit of cost sharing reduction certainty for the coming year. 

REINVESTS IN OUTREACH AND ENROLLMENT: 

• Requires HHS to increase funding for outreach and enrollment assistance activities for 2018 and 2019. 

• Puts in place extensive reporting requirements to make sure HHS and CMS are held accountable for implementing open enrollment in 2018 and 2019. 

MAINTAINS CORE PROTECTIONS OF 1332 WAIVER PROVISION

• Maintains the core protections related to affordability, coverage, and comprehensiveness in current law’s 1332 waiver provision. 

• Modifies the 1332 “affordability” guardrail to allow states to propose innovative value-based insurance designs, but adds language specifically protecting low income people, those with serious health conditions, and other vulnerable populations. 

• Expands the generosity of “pass through” payments to states granted 1332 waivers

STREAMLINING THE 1332 STATE WAIVER PROCESS: 

• Shortens the Administration’s review window for states’ waiver applications, 

• Expedites review for states in emergency circumstances, as well as those with waiver proposals that have already been approved for other states, 

• Allows Governors to approve state waiver applications, rather than requiring state legislatures to pass a law. 

• Waivers are assessed for budget neutrality over the life of the waiver rather than on a yearly basis. 

OTHER CHANGES: 

• Expands eligibility for catastrophic plans to people over 30, while maintaining a single risk pool so that those with serious medical needs aren’t priced out. 

• Directs the Administration to issue regulations on interstate health compacts, a provision included in the Affordable Care Act that the Obama Administration never issued regulations on.

Stand Up To Sabotage of the ACA

At 11:30 am today, President Trump signed an Executive Order to sabotage our health care. Having failed at health care repeal in Congress because of bipartisan opposition and overwhelming public rejection, the Trump administration is now doing everything it can to sabotage the country’s health care system and fulfill his promise to “Let it be a disaster.”

Marylanders Speak to Governor Hogan

This event was held on October 4 with Leni Preston, President of Consumer Health First, speaking to the Governor about health care. The sponsoring organizations included Do the Most Good, Indivisible All In, Indivisible Cabin John, Diversity Matters, Indivisible Montgomery and Takoma Park Mobilization.

The first health care question was a “big” one – Governor Hogan, how do you propose to ensure that Marylanders continue to have access to high-quality, comprehensive and affordable health care. That question was broken down into four categories with recommendations on how the Governor should take action. The issue areas were: 

  • Preservation of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Stabilization of Maryland’s Individual Insurance Market
  • Ensuring Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services
  • Creating a Consumer-Informed Health Care Delivery System

Attendees voted on their top priorities and the preservation of Medicaid and CHIP won the popular vote overwhelmingly. 

The slide presentation can be found here.  Please contact Leni with any questions and, as always, please share your stories – these make a real difference in our work.

Maryland health exchange opens website for browsing plans

This year, consumers will have just six weeks (November 1 - December 15) to purchase theirhealth insurance through Maryland Health Connection. To address that, the site is now open so that individuals can browse the options and be ready to make their final decision on November 1 with their coverage starting on January 1, 2018. In the Baltimore Sun, Leni Preston, CHF President 

"… praised local exchange officials’ effort at reaching Marylanders who may want to buy plans. She said it was actions in Washington that could affect enrollment, from the shortened enrollment period to expected lack of enforcement of the so-called individual mandate that balances the coverage pool by requiring everyone get insurance or face a penalty."

Preston also said Congress must reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  This program, along with Medicaid, provides health coverage to more than 500,000 children. Learn more.

Children's Health Insurance Program and Community Health Center Reauthorization

Midnight on Saturday, September 30 passed and Congress still had not reauthorized funding for two important programs. Nearly 9 million children across the United States were left in limbo by this lack of action. And, Community Health Centers, which provide care for our most vulnerable and are vital in many rural areas, now wonder where their funding will come from PBS News Hour reported on the Health Centers last week and here's more information on CHIP:

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation released a series of Tweets outlining the impact that missing the deadline will have, and issued a report showing when states would run out of funding. At a meeting last week, Maryland officials said the state will run out of money for CHIP in February of 2018, but that is no reason why families should suffer with more "uncertainties."

  • Kelly Whitener from the Georgetown University Health Policy Instituteexplains how failure to extend funding by the deadline will threaten the stability of children's coverage.

  • The National Association of Medicaid Directors sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Finance and Energy and Commerce Committees, warning of potentially dire outcomes for some states if CHIP is not reauthorized.

  • A Congressional House Panel is expected to take up a proposal as early as Tuesday on CHIP, and the Senate released a bipartisan five-year bill to reauthorize the program, but there has been little discussion about how to pay for it, and a vote hasn't been scheduled.