While Congress wrestles with budget reconciliation and takes another swipe at the Affordable Care Act, most state lawmakers are back at their day jobs and finished with legislative business for the year. The 2015 sessions produced a few highlights, and some lowlights, for health care advocates. Lawmakers continued to grapple with full implementation of the ACA, but some looked beyond the health care law to move their states toward a health reform 2.0 agenda. Below we note some of the significant work this year in state capitals.
Earlier this month, health equity advocates received an unexpected surprise when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new county-level enrollment data by race and ethnicity from the 37 states that use the federal health insurance marketplace. This level of data had never before been made available to the public.
Patrick Willard, Families USA’s Health Action Director, responds to the good news that Governor Bill Walker will take executive action to expand Medicaid in Alaska. Now, all eyes are on Utah to extend health coverage to its moderate- and low-income residents.
With more than 40 percent of domestic weddings taking place in the summer months, wedding season gives enrollment assisters an opportunity to push the special enrollment period (SEP) for newlyweds. And the recent Supreme Court decision, allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, provides enrollment assisters with new opportunities to forge community partnerships around the marriage SEP.
Although Republicans in Congress missed their self-imposed July 24 budget reconciliation deadline where they hoped to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that doesn’t mean the drama is over. After the August recess, Republicans may still use reconciliation to attempt to dismantle the ACA, cut Medicaid, and other health care programs that serve low-income Americans.
July 30 marks 50 years since President Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 into law. Along with Medicare, the law created Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for low-income people. In the past 50 years, Medicaid has not only helped countless Americans get the health care they need, it has also served as a reliable source of financial support for states.
On May 26, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a major overhaul of the regulations governing Medicaid managed care plans, the first in a decade. Families USA has spent the summer combing through the proposed regulations, and recently submitted our comments.
Summer’s a perfect time to catch up on your reading. Here to bring you up to date are five of our most popular blogs published so far in 2015. Learn about the evidence piling up showing the economic benefits of Medicaid expansion, the concerning trend in wellness programs to penalize employees, and ideas for lowring high out-of-pocket health insurance costs.
State lawmakers kept returning to the topic of 1332 waivers during the annual Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Seattle last week. No fewer than four of the NCSL Health and Human Services sessions touched on the state innovation waiver options that will become available in 2017. But while the 1332 waivers were a hot topic, it does not appear legislators are looking to embrace big changes anytime soon.
Thousands of enrollment assisters across the country have worked tirelessly to help consumers sign up for coverage, often under stressful circumstances with little support. These assisters typically work independently in their communities, and it’s important to prevent them from feeling isolated or burned out. This blog shares creative ways that organizations can support and motivate enrollment assisters.