Another ACA Delay to “Un-Cancel” Plans
Sources at the White House last night leaked word that this week the administration would announce another Affordable Care Act delay that would enable health insurance providers to continue to offer plans that do not meet minimum ACA requirements. The ACA mandates health insurance plans being offered must cover a set list of minimum cover ages that resulted in millions of Americans having cancelled insurance plans last fall. Back in November the administration had a similar delay that was contingent on state insurance commissioners allowing it, which several did not. This delay, the administration hopes, would avoid another mass wave of plan cancellations in a mid-term election year.
Glitch in Maryland Exchange’s Website Costs Taxpayers $30.5 Million
Maryland state exchange officials discovered its website is unable to remove Medicaid enrollees whose income no longer qualifies them for the program. According to the Washington Post this single flaw may cost taxpayers $30.5M in excess Medicaid payments. There may be little state exchange officials can do to solve the problem. They have the option of removing all Medicaid enrollees from the program and forcing everyone to reapply but state officials fear this option is infeasible because some individuals may fail to do so.
State budget officials say, “it is impossible to say with certainty” if the funding currently appropriated for the exchange this year and proposed for next year is enough to fix the flawed website.
HHS Officials Warned of Problematic Website in May of 2013
Recently it has come to light that HHS officials were voicing concerns over the health care law’s flawed website last May. The Washington Examiner obtained an email exchange between Anton Gunnn, Director of External Affairs for HHS and Anne Filipie, President of Enroll America, a private group working closely with HHS and the White House to promote the Affordable Care Act. Emails between the two individuals reveal a shared sense of frustration and concern over the White House’s message and preparations regarding the healthcare.gov website. In one message regarding the White House’s leadership on the healthcare.gov website Gunn is quoted as saying “I think they are in disarray, I don’t know who’s in charge.”
These emails present more evidence to suggest HHS officials knew there would be issues with the healthcare.gov website long before the October 1st rollout. Two GOP led House committees are investigating this new information and also HHS’s relationship with Enroll America.
Two Thirds of Small Businesses Will See Their Premiums Rise
Two Thirds of small businesses will see their premiums rise next year according to a new federal report issued last week. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) issued a report saying that 11 million Americans could see their premiums rise as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The report also said that 6 million Americans would see their premiums decrease.
Medical Device Tax Cost 33,000 Jobs Last Year
The Affordable Care Act’s Medical Device tax is beginning to take a real toll on jobs. According to a study by AdvaMed, the medical device tax, included in the ACA to help pay for the reforms, led to 33,000 fewer jobs last year.
President and CEO of AdvaMed, Stephen J. Ubl reports these figures should serve as a wake up call—especially considering the fact there is bipartisan support for growing high-tech manufacturing jobs. The medical device tax has a negative impact on medical device manufacturers and also reduces investment in R&D.
In order to repeal the tax Congress will have to find an alternate way to raise the $30 billion dollars the tax is expected to produce over the next 10 years.
The ACA’s hidden tax on health insurance companies that will increase premiums for all.
Actual ACA Enrollment Likely Lower Than HHS Reports
Last week the administration said that they had enrolled 3.3 million individuals through the ACA’s exchanges through four months of open enrollment. However, the administration is likely over counting the total number. The National Journal reports that it is likely that 20-30% of enrollees who were counted in the HHS’ monthly report have not actually paid their premiums. Actual enrollment tallies will not come until well after open enrollment is closed, but they could show a significant drop from what the administration reported.
The AAF Monthly Enrollment Analysis found that the administration is behind the pace to reach their public goal of 7 million enrollees, but it seems the final actual number could end up being significantly lower than they had hoped.
Oregon’s Exchange is Still Not Running
Oregon’s major problems setting up its health exchange continue. Even though open enrollment began nearly five months ago, the Cover Oregon website is still not operational. This past week state exchange officials hoped to have a partial launch of the website so it can at least be accessed by insurance agents. However, this launch was delayed.
Despite receiving over $340 million from the federal government and $160 million from state taxpayers there are still over 1,200 glitches that need to be corrected. Oregon’s state legislature has been holding hearings on the failures and so far two top state exchange officials have resigned. State officials are expecting the new launch date to be sometime next month, near the March 31st deadline for open enrollment.
1 in 5 ACA Enrollees Have Not Paid Yet
A New York Times report this morning says that roughly 1 in 5 ACA exchange enrollees have not actually paid their premiums yet. The report writes that several major insurance companies including Blue Cross, Humana, and Aetna told the Times that they have yet to receive payment for roughly one-fifth of their exchange enrollees. The back end of the healthcare.gov website, which handles payments to the insurance companies, has still yet to be finished and that is clear from the large number of missing payments.
On Wednesday the administration released enrollment numbers for the ACA through the month of January. The report included that 3.3 million people have enrolled thus far through the exchanges. If 1 in every 5 of those enrollees has not paid yet, it would mean that roughly 660,000 insurance payments are still pending.