Congress has left D.C. for the summer without passing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or cut Medicaid. Leadership and rank-and-file representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle appear to be looking past the repeal fight that has embattled Congress for the past year and looking ahead toward efforts to stabilize the insurance market. Are these overtures of bipartisanship to be believed? Are the ACA and Medicaid finally safe? As always, it’s complicated.
On Tuesday, America voted to reelect Barack Obama for another four years in office. It was a momentous victory, not only for progressives, but for the health care justice movement.
The off-year elections in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia aren’t dominating the Twitterverse like the presidential primary debates.
But the outcomes will determine the momentum of the ACA in the region that has been most resistant to expansion.
In the 2017 elections, Maine voters took control at the ballot box to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. The decisive win--with nearly 60 percent of the vote-- shows the popular support for Medicaid expansion in Maine, where the governor has vetoed the state legislature's repeated efforts to expand coverage.
The lesson of the campaign will be shared in the coming year with other states like Utah and Idaho, where ballot initiatives give voters a chance to move Medicaid expansion efforts ahead after years of stalling by conservative policymakers.
Last week, Harvard researchers released the latest installment of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment (OHIE) –a randomized control trial that examines the effects of Medicaid expansion on Oregonians who won a lottery for health insurance in 2008. After analyzing hospital records for 18 months, the researchers discovered that Medicaid recipients visited the ER 41 percent more than those without insurance.
This past June, the Supreme Court made the historic decision to uphold Obamacare. Although the decision declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional, the Supreme Court’s opinion made one change to the law: Under the ruling, the expansion of Medicaid was changed from a requirement for states to an option.
It’s critical that states choose to expand.
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) formed a coalition, called “The Bridge to the Middle Class,” to support positive reforms in the state’s Medicaid expansion and head off any threats to the program. In this Q&A, WVAHC's Executive Director Terri Giles talks about the work of the coalition, their educational toolkit materials, and the program’s successes.
2:00 p.m.—We at Families USA have had a blast the past three days. Meeting all of you hard-working advocates has been inspiring and energizing for us. Relive Health Action 2015 by checking out our highlights blog and video of our plenary session on Medicaid and CHIP.
Thanks for being a part of our 20th annual gathering in Washington, D.C., hope to see you next year!
5:30 p.m.—We just heard from two leading thinkers in health policy debate some of the most pressing issues related to access to affordable health care in America.
In a wide-ranging discussion that covered everything from Medicaid policy to children’s benefits on the exchanges to the ACA’s subsidies, these two feisty policy wonks hashed out their visions for the future while reflecting on the past year.
5:00 p.m. update—With three weeks until the end of open enrollment, one thing that distinguishes this period from last year’s is the lack of news. Things have been going pretty well.
Kevin Counihan of CMS noted that he’s grateful for the work of everyone at the conference: “This audience represents our salesforce.”
Counihan ran down the improvements CMS made to Healthcare.gov: reduced number of screens required to enroll from 76 down to 16, the site is warmer, fonts are bigger. “We’re learning.“