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

The Future of the Affordable Care Act under President Trump: Stakeholders Respond to Proposed 2019 Marketplace Rule. Part II: Consumer Advocates

The final 2019 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters has been submitted to the White House for review. The initial proposal included a number of changes to the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits, marketplace operations, and other consumer protections. In this second post in a series of blogs analyzing public comments on the proposed rules, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab examines responses from a range of consumer advocacy groups to better understand who the rule could impact. Continue reading

A Snake in the Grass? Choosing Between COBRA and Other Coverage Options After Leaving Employer Coverage

Leaving a job comes with many challenges, not the least of which is securing new health insurance. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) offers employees continued coverage on their job-based plan, but losing the employer subsidies could cause some to turn to the individual market to find lower premiums. With a Senate bill under consideration that reduces federal subsidies and strips away vital consumer protections, anyone leaving employer coverage will have to make a decision today about joining an insurance market that could look vastly different six months from now. On her last day at Georgetown, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab reflects on options for coverage after leaving a job-based plan. Continue reading

New Report Emphasizes States’ Power to Protect Consumers and Ensure Stable Markets in the Midst of Federal Uncertainty

In the past few months, Congress and the Trump Administration have floated a number of proposals and three-pronged plans, many of which put states in the hot seat of implementing and overseeing major changes to the health care system. In a new report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Consumer Representatives outline the potential impact of federal proposals, and how state Departments of Insurance can protect consumers and promote market stability through their role as regulators and advisors to state and federal policymakers. Continue reading

Proposed Trump Administration Rule Shortens Open Enrollment: Policy Goals, Potential Impact, and State Options

In February, the Trump administration proposed a number of rules that they hope will stabilize the individual market. One of these rules would cut this year’s open enrollment period from 90 days to 45 days. While HHS argues that the shorter timeframe could streamline the enrollment process and improve the risk pool, other health care stakeholders have expressed concern that a shortened OE might dampen enrollment and overwhelm state-based marketplaces. With the final rule expected any day, what are the possible impacts of shortening the annual enrollment period? CHIR’s Rachel Schwab takes a look. Continue reading

Stakeholders React to HHS’ Proposed Market Stabilization Regulations: Part 2 – Consumer Advocates

Last month, the Department of Health & Human Services released proposed rules aimed at stabilizing the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces. After a 20-day comment period, they received close to 4,000 public comments. In the second post in our series on the reactions of health care stakeholders, CHIR’s Rachel Schwab looks at comments from consumer advocacy groups. Continue reading

Policy Experts Talk Strategies, Obstacles for “Repeal and Replace”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased access to health care by expanding coverage and reducing the number of uninsured, but problems facing consumers and insurers have some calling for repealing, replacing, or repairing the law. It seems every day we are presented with a new replacement plan or proposed rule, leaving the future of the health care landscape uncertain. Recently, CHIR sent Rachel Schwab to cover two D.C. events that brought together health policy experts to discuss the options and obstacles in front of us. Continue reading