States Opt to Run their Own Exchanges to Save Money, Reclaim Autonomy

Last month, the Board of New Mexico’s health insurance exchange voted to transition from HealthCare.gov to a state-based exchange. The state will undertake the task of building its own eligibility and enrollment platform with the hopes of launching a website in time for the 2021 plan year. This is the same exchange that, in 2015, called the federal platform HealthCare.gov the “safest, most risk-free way to proceed.” So, what changed? CHIR’s Rachel Schwab looks at the reasons behind the growing call to leave HealthCare.gov. Continue reading

Federal Flexibility Grants Highlight State Priorities for Market Stability

Last month, the Department of Health & Human Services awarded $8.6 million in grants to 30 states and the District of Columbia to provide additional support to implement certain ACA market reforms, including guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewal, and the Essential Health Benefits. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab took a look at how states plan to use the federal funding, and what tops the list of state market stabilization and consumer protection priorities. Continue reading

The District of Columbia’s Coverage Requirement Is Caught in Congressional Crosshairs, and Consumers Could Pay the Price

When Congress repealed the individual mandate’s financial penalty, some states acted quickly to protect their markets from deterioration. A handful of state legislatures and the Council of the District of Columbia considered or enacted legislation creating a state-based coverage requirement. While many states faced political hurdles and unforgiving timelines in enacting their own mandates, D.C. now has an additional obstacle: the U.S. Congress. Continue reading

Coverage That (Doesn’t) Count: How the Short-Term, Limited Duration Rule Could Lead to Underinsurance

Any day now, the Trump administration is expected to publish new rules that will expand access to short-term, limited duration insurance (STLDI). These plans are allowed to discriminate against sick people, exclude coverage of essential health services, and impose lifetime and annual benefit limits. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the majority of plans expanded under this rule will be considered health insurance. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a closer look at how CBO defines health insurance, and explains how the expansion of STLDI could lead to widespread underinsurance. Continue reading

Stakeholder Views on the Proposed Short-Term Plan Insurance Rule: Key Takeaways from Our Review of Comment Letters

In February, the Trump administration published a proposed rule to expand the availability of short-term, limited duration insurance by relaxing federal restrictions put in place by the Obama administration. Federal agencies received over 9,000 comments in response. In a four-part blog series, CHIR dug into comments to evaluate the proposed rule’s potential impact on consumers, major medical insurers, states, and sellers of short-term plans. Here’s what we found. Continue reading

Stakeholders Respond to the Proposed Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance Rule. Part I: Consumer Advocates

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed rules to relax federal restrictions on short-term, limited duration insurance. After a 60-day comment period, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL) and Treasury received over 9,000 comments from individuals, organizations, and government officials. To understand the potential impact of the proposals, CHIR reviewed comments from various stakeholder groups. For the first blog in our four-part series, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab examines comments submitted by consumer and patient organizations. Continue reading

States Leaning In: Washington

Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, states have embraced the law to varying degrees. While some states have refused to implement the ACA and actively oppose it, other states have leaned in, stepping up to preserve the consumer protections and market rules in the wake of federal actions to weaken the law. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab examines steps that Washington State has taken to ensure that their residents can continue to obtain affordable, high quality coverage, and how other states can do the same. Continue reading

The Future of the Affordable Care Act under President Trump: Stakeholders Respond to the Proposed Association Health Plan Rule. Part I: State Attorneys General

The Trump administration has proposed major changes to the regulation of Association Health Plans (AHPs). To understand the potential impact of these proposals on consumers, employers, insurers, and states, CHIR reviewed comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor by various stakeholder groups. For the first blog in our series, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab examines comments submitted by eighteen state attorneys general, officials who, thanks to their consumer protection responsibilities, have unique insights into the potential risks and benefits of AHPs. Continue reading

Stepping in When States Don’t Step Up: First “State-Based” Plans Filed in Idaho, Violating the Affordable Care Act

Last week Blue Cross of Idaho filed the first “state-based” health plans, products that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for coverage offered on the individual market. When a state can’t or won’t enforce federal law, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is supposed to step in. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab outlines HHS’ authority to protect the rule of law and ensure that Idaho consumers continue to receive the benefits they are promised under the ACA. Continue reading

New Funding Opportunity Allows States to Bolster Consumer Protections

On February 5th, the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) put out a Notice of Funding Opportunity. The federal agency anticipates that $8.1 million is available for state initiatives focused on insurers’ compliance with federal market reforms and consumer protections, giving states the opportunity to improve their oversight efforts. With the February 26th deadline for letters of intent just around the corner, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab provides an overview of the new grant program. Continue reading