Washington Wire: November 2019

Open Enrollment for 2020 insurance plans ends soon – don’t miss out!

The Open Enrollment Period for 2020 insurance plans ends soon for Medicare plans, for individual insurance plans (in most states), and for many employer health insurance programs. It is important to take action during this timeframe to assure you have health coverage for 2020.
Remember these key dates:

  • Open enrollment for Medicare plans runs through Dec. 7.
  • Open enrollment in coverage through the ACA Marketplaces runs through (at least) Dec. 15; however,

  • If you get insurance through your job, check with your human resources department to find out when your company’s open enrollment period begins and ends.
  • Enrollment in Medicaid is available 365 days per year, based on need, income, and other state-specific eligibility criteria.

Don’t let these deadlines pass you by! Regardless of where you get your insurance coverage, it is important to take an active role in considering your options for 2020. If you need help navigating your insurance choices, check out the resources on the HFA website, including a new webinar guide to open enrollment for 2020. Remember, too, that your treatment center social worker may be able to advise you with respect to some of the specific insurance plans offered in your area.

Advancing Youth Enrollment Act is introduced in Congress

Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Donald McEachin re-introduced the Advancing Youth Enrollment (AYE) Act on Oct. 30, 2019 (S. 2735/H.R. 4927). This legislation, first introduced in the 115th Congress, aims to make insurance coverage more affordable for all young people by enhancing the premium tax credit subsidies available to help them buy health insurance, and by pegging those tax credits to local insurance market premiums to ensure that financial assistance reflects the true cost of coverage in the area where people live.
In October, as previously reported, participants in HFA’s Young Adult Advocacy Summit (YAAS) made the AYE Act one of their legislative “asks” during Hill visits. HFA members educated lawmakers about what it means to live with a bleeding disorder, and described how the AYE Act could improve access to coverage for people with bleeding disorders and other chronic conditions. To further support the bill, HFA participated on a national call with Sen. Baldwin and the Young Invincibles advocacy group to share how individuals in the bleeding disorders community are coping with the high costs of healthcare. HFA community member (and past YAAS participant), Kimberly Martin from Wisconsin, detailed the challenges she has faced trying to navigate the health insurance market.
Quick Hits:

  • On Nov. 21, 2019, Congress passed and the President signed legislation to provide stopgap funding to keep the federal government open. The legislation includes funding for federal health programs, and maintains current levels of Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories. Since this is a stopgap measure, Congress will have to act again by Dec. 20 in order to keep the federal government running.
  • On Nov. 12, 2019, HFA joined with 12 other patient groups to file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the appeal of Association for Community Affiliated Plans v. United States. This lawsuit challenges the Administration’s short-term plan rule. The amicus brief argues that the 2018 rules, which expanded the availability of skimpy, short-term health plans, will destabilize the insurance market and hurt people with pre-existing conditions.
  • HFA joined with 14 other patient groups in a Nov. 21 letter calling on the Administration to withdraw its bulletin regarding state “wellness program demonstration projects.” The patient groups argued that the bulletin opens the door to discrimination against individuals with chronic health conditions, allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to individuals who are unable to participate in wellness programs.
  • Also in November, consumer advocates filed suit against Michigan Medicaid’s work reporting requirements. This case will be heard by the same court that already blocked similar Medicaid work reporting requirements for Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire. Montana and Indiana, meanwhile, chose to delay implementation of their Medicaid work reporting requirements until an appeals court weighs in on the lower court decision.
  • Idaho’s voter-mandated Medicaid expansion opened for enrollment on Nov. 1, and more than half of eligible Idahoans have already signed up for coverage that will begin Jan. 1, 2020. Idaho is still pursuing waivers to limit its Medicaid expansion in a variety of ways, including through adoption of work reporting requirements.
  • State agencies in Colorado released for comment their new plan for a public health insurance option. Starting with the 2021 open enrollment period, licensed insurers would offer the public option to all individual market consumers (both in and out of the ACA Marketplace). Competition from the public option is projected to reduce premium costs by at least 10% statewide, and up to 15% in the highest-cost counties.
  • HFA says a fond goodbye to Kim Isenberg, who has headed up the Policy, Advocacy & Government Education team here for almost two years. We wish Kim much success in her new endeavors, and know our paths will cross again soon! HFA’s policy and advocacy teams remain hard at work, led by Senior Director Sonji Wilkes. Please feel free to reach out to any of the team with your concerns; you can contact us all at advocacy@hemophiliafed.org.