Insurers Report to Congress that Consumers Are Paying their Premiums: On May 7, representatives from some of the largest insurance companies in the nation testified at a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. The insurers stated that 80-90 percent of consumers who signed up for marketplace coverage had paid their first month’s premium. This means that the vast majority of the eight million Americans who signed up through the marketplaces are finishing the process and activating coverage.
Second Confirmation Hearing for U.S. Health Human Services (HHS) Secretary this Week: On May 14, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to be the next secretary of HHS. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held its nomination hearing last week, and Committee members from both parties expressed support for Burwell.
New Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Document on Basic Health Program (BHP): The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released an FAQ on BHP, an optional program that states may begin implementing in 2015 to provide coverage to low-income consumers who would otherwise purchase coverage in their state’s marketplace. BHP gives states the flexibility to provide residents with lower-cost coverage options while improving continuity of care. Several states have shown interest in this option, including Minnesota and Washington State. The FAQ covers a number of topics including eligibility, program administration, and financing.
Updates from State-based Marketplaces (SBMs):
- Colorado: The Division of Insurance is asking HHS for approval to consolidate its four rural health insurance rating areas (geographic zones that all insurers must use when pricing premiums) into two larger ratings areas in 2015. The seven urban rating areas would remain the same. The state is aiming to spread risk across larger populations and stabilize premiums for consumers across the state.
- Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Health Connector Board accepted a “dual path” plan to replace the Connector’s current website. The Connector will purchase a commercial IT solution that has been used successfully by other SBMs and customize it to Massachusetts’ requirements over the coming months. In parallel, the Connector will also prepare to join the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM) in case their new site is not ready for the next open enrollment period, which begins November 15. If Massachusetts joins the FFM, it will only do so temporarily, and the Connector will transition to its own site when it is ready.
- Minnesota: MNsure released its official Request for Proposals for Outreach and Enrollment Grants for the next open enrollment period. The marketplace has $4 million in funding to issue in grants. Proposals are due June 2 and final grant decisions will be announced September 2.