A project of the George Washington University's Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Health Insurance

CBPP releases report on alternative Medicaid expansion approaches

Posted on August 22, 2014

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a report to help state policymakers design waiver proposals for alternative approaches to expanding Medicaid. Arkansas, Iowa, and Michigan have all been granted waivers by the federal government to expand their Medicaid programs through alternative methods. The report outlines what federal officials have previously permitted and refused to help newly interested  states successfully obtain a waiver.

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Study finds less market competition contributes to higher premiums

Posted on August 13, 2014

A study by the Urban Institute analyzed marketplaces in 10 states finding that in states largely dominated by one insurer, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Rhode Island and West Virginia, premiums are generally higher. In the more competitive markets- Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Virginia, the authors often found limited provider networks, which allows insurers to keep premiums low. However, these limited networks may hinder access to certain providers

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Report proposes theoretical ACA alternative

Posted on August 13, 2014

Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy proposed a health care plan that guarantees “near universal coverage and permanent fiscal solvency.” The Universal Exchange Plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual and employer mandates and would transition Medicaid beneficiaries and future retirees into reformed health exchanges. The Manhattan Institute predicts the plan would expand coverage to 12.1 million more Americans than the ACA by 2025 and decrease individual market premiums 17 percentage points by 2020.

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Issue brief examines health plan quality improvement efforts

Posted on July 29, 2014

In a new issue brief published by the Commonwealth Fund, researchers from Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance reforms reviewed state action in selective contracting, informing consumers about health plan quality, and collecting data on insurers’ quality improvement efforts. The study found that 13 state-based marketplaces have taken action to implement the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) quality improvement goals. The authors also assess technical and operational challenges states face in using the Marketplace to help drive system wide change in health care delivery.

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Study looks at remaining uninsured

Posted on July 29, 2014

A new study by the Urban Institute funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that two-thirds of the nation’s remaining uninsured adults have incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). While this is the target population of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, 40 percent of the uninsured live in states that chose not to expand Medicaid. The study found that affordability was the main reason people did not get health insurance, yet many uninsured individuals had limited awareness of potential financial help available to them.

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10.3 million adults estimated to have gained coverage under the ACA

Posted on July 24, 2014

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that an estimated 10.3 million adults gained insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The study, performed by Harvard researchers, reported a 5.2% decline in the uninsured rate during the first open enrollment period.  Data analyzed for this project included Gallup polls and ACA enrollment statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Courts issue conflicting ACA decisions

Posted on July 22, 2014

Today, two federal appeals courts issued contradictory decisions regarding the availability of advanced premium tax credits, or subsidies, for federally-facilitated marketplaces (FFM).  In a 2-1 decision in Halbig v. Burwell, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) did not possess the authority to issue subsidies for qualifying individuals enrolling in FFM.  In a similar case entitled King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond unanimously upheld that subsidies may be offered by the IRS in both federally-facilitated and state-based Marketplaces.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals earning 400% or less of the federal poverty level may receive subsidies in order to offset some of the premium costs for obtaining health insurance through the ACA Marketplaces.  The differing opinions issued today indicate that this issue will likely be taken up by the Supreme Court.

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Report finds weaknesses in ACA enrollment controls

Posted on July 22, 2014

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a preliminary report finding that fraud controls for enrollment in health care coverage and consumer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be lacking. Congressional investigators using fake identities were able to obtain taxpayer-subsidized health insurance on Affordable Insurance Exchanges. The report’s findings were contained in testimony delivered at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on July 23.

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Study finds an increase in premiums in 2013

Posted on July 17, 2014

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reports that premiums for employer-sponsored insurance increased by about 3.5 percent in 2013. Out-of-pocket costs also climbed by at least 4 percent in 2013. However, the majority of Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance market reforms did not take effect until 2014, meaning data on 2014 premiums will provide more meaningful insight into the law’s impact on premiums and cost sharing.

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CMS releases proposed rule on annual eligibility determinations

Posted on June 26, 2014

A new proposed rule issued today by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) discussed annual eligibility redetermination under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and several other enrollment standards for ACA Marketplace. CCIIO stated that nearly all of those currently enrolled in an ACA Marketplace plan will be re-enrolled unless they choose a new plan in the next open enrollment period or the plan in which they are currently enrolled is terminated. The rule proposes three methods for ACA Marketplaces to conduct annual redeterminations for enrollment. The rule also proposes standards to redetermine eligibility within a plan year and when an individual’s plan in the ACA Marketplace is not available for re-enrollment for the next plan year.

Additional guidance includes:

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