Latest Morning Briefing Stories
In the next two weeks, President Trump says he will sign an executive order requiring health insurers to cover all preexisting conditions. Democrats jumped on the announcement, claiming that the president is trying to run under achievements of the Affordable Care Act that he is also working to overturn.
Another ballot measure campaign results in voters again overruling Republican state lawmakers who refused to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, fewer unemployed have enrolled in Medicaid during the pandemic than expected.
Quality of care for beneficiaries and reimbursement speed are among the complaints cited by health care providers about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program. Other news stories cover New York’s rebate efforts and Medicaid enrollment.
The Democratic Party platform aligns with Joe Biden’s campaign promises, but almost 400 delegates to the convention wanted the promise of “Medicare for All” included. Legalizing marijuana is also not in the platform.
The president is promising a speech soon in which he will lay out his health care plan but similar promises in the past have not materialized. Meanwhile, a new poll finds voters fault him for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
As job loss jeopardizes health coverage for millions of people, advocates say the administration should do more to publicize the availability of Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or health plans being sold on marketplaces. Meanwhile, the administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court asking that Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirements be reinstated.
The Supreme Court announced that justices will not hear in October the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, supported by the Trump administration. The case, and its implications for Americans’ health care coverage, is a top campaign issue this year. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s comments on preexisting conditions is fact checked.
On Tuesday, voters approved the ballot measure that amended the state’s constitution to make it possible for the Medicaid program to provide health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income residents. Support for the effort was concentrated in the state’s urban areas, while rural voters largely opposed it.
If the Supreme Court invalidated the health law, more than 20 million Americans could lose their coverage and protections for pre-existing conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats seized on the Trump administration’s move, calling it an “unfathomable cruelty.”
Some of the groups that have been most susceptible to COVID-19 were also the ones with the highest rates of being underinsured or completely uninsured. “In a way lower-income people and racial minorities are in double jeopardy because of the way our healthcare system is financed,” said lead study author Dr. Adam Gaffney.
Some states that opened special enrollment periods for worker who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, but those sessions are coming to an end, and industry officials fear that only a small fraction of people who need coverage even know where to look. In other industry and costs news: federal aid for hospitals, plummeting profits, and medical bills.
Although people could already sign up for coverage if they had an unexpected life event, California specifically created a special enrollment period to make it easier. In other health industry and insurer news: MLR rebates, accountable care organizations, and Medicare payments.
But the policy change doesn’t require employers to offer these options; they must opt in if they want to give their employees added flexibility. In other insurance and cost news: hospital lobbyists seek higher COBRA subsidies from Congress, UnitedHealthcare to have bigger footprint in ACA marketplace, how Medicaid and ACA subsidies could help recently laid off workers, and more.
There are still 14 states that still haven’t expanded Medicaid, but two–Oklahoma and Missouri–will likely have ballot initiatives go in front of voters this year. Advocates hope the outbreak will nudge anyone on the fence toward supporting the expansion.
Manufacturing workers in Hazleton were exempted from Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order. And then they started getting sick. In other news on the economic toll of the outbreak: recovery is likely to be long and bumpy; why stimulus funds were sent to dead Americans; kids who are U.S. citizens with undocumented parents struggle to get help; and more.
As states struggle not to collapse beneath the economic burden of the pandemic, they’re eyeing their Medicaid programs — often the largest budget item for a state — as a way to stanch the bleeding. Meanwhile, states are also asking Congress for help to cover astronomical unemployment claims.
Proposals for government-sponsored health care and universal basic income carry are more compelling during a pandemic that has devastated the economy and led to millions of job losses than they did when the country was thriving. But on Capitol Hill, progressives might be shouldered out of relief package negotiations.
An estimated 1.5 million undocumented Californians remain uninsured, and advocates worry that the group will be hit hard by financial setbacks during the pandemic. In other health care costs news: free clinics try to fill gaps and what to do if insurers bill you for testing.
Black Americans are being hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, and some in Georgia see the states decision to reopen as potentially devastating. “For black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?” said Demetrius Young, a city commissioner in Albany, the center of the state’s epidemic.
Laid-off workers need money quickly so that they can continue to pay rent and credit card bills and buy groceries. But delays in benefits mean they’re going longer and longer without help. That in turn means the hole the economy has fallen into is getting “deeper and deeper, and more difficult to crawl out of.” Meanwhile, the surge of unemployed workers adds extra stress on Medicaid.