Health Care – Health Insurance Open Enrollment Continues Through December 15

Now is the time for individuals who are uninsured or are looking for affordable health insurance to investigate the private health insurance plans available through state marketplaces (to find state information visit the health care website). During open enrollment a person can purchase private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. There may also be financial assistance to help with health care costs available for people with low and moderate incomes. It is also important for people who currently have insurance through the marketplace to look at the plan to determine if it will continue to meet their needs. Individuals who do not take action will be automatically re-enrolled in the current plan. Re-enrollment is also an important opportunity for people to report any changes in income. To learn more, read The Arc’s blog post. Open enrollment ends on December 15, 2017.

Health Care – Health Insurance Open Enrollment Continues Through December 15

Now is the time for individuals who are uninsured or are looking for affordable health insurance to investigate the private health insurance plans available through state marketplaces (to find your state information visit the health care website). During open enrollment a person can purchase private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. There may also be financial assistance to help with health care costs available for low and moderate incomes. It is also important for people who currently have insurance through the marketplace to look at the plan to determine if it will continue to meet their needs. Individuals who do not take action will be automatically re-enrolled in the current plan. Re-enrollment is also an important opportunity for people to report any changes in income. To learn more, read The Arc’s blog post. Open enrollment ends on December 15, 2017.

Health Care – House Passes CHIP Funding Extension

On November 3rd, the House of Representatives voted 242-174 to pass the Championing Healthy Kids Act (H.R. 3922), a bill that extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health centers. It also reauthorizes several public health programs, including a two year extension of the Family to Family Health Information Centers.  This bipartisan bill reauthorizes federal funding for CHIP for the next five years.  CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to roughly 8.9 million children under the age of 18 who do not qualify for Medicaid or have access to private insurance. Current federal funding expired on September 30, the end of Fiscal Year 2017. However, some states have been able to carry over this federal funding and keep their programs running longer than others. While there was bipartisan agreement on the reauthorization of these critical programs, there was a major disagreement about how to pay for the bills.  The provisions to pay for the reauthorizations included a large cut to the Prevention and Public Health fund, an increase in Medicare premiums for high income people, changes to Medicaid third party liability provisions, and changes to the treatment of certain lottery earnings in the Medicaid program. The Arc supports the reauthorizations but has concerns about the funding proposals. Read more here.

Health Care – Health Insurance Open Enrollment Begins November 1

Now is the time for individuals who are uninsured or looking for affordable health insurance to investigate the private health insurance plans available through state marketplaces (to find your state information visit the health care website). During “open enrollment”, a person can purchase private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. There may also be financial assistance to help with health care costs available for low and moderate incomes. It is also important for people who currently have insurance through the marketplace to look at the plan to determine if it will continue to meet their needs. Individuals who do not take action will be automatically re-enrolled in the current plan. Re-enrollment is also an important opportunity for people to report any changes in income. To learn more, read The Arc’s blog post.

Health Care – House Schedules CHIP Reauthorization Vote for This Week

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) this week. While there is bipartisan support for reauthorization of the program, there is disagreement on how to fund it. The current bill funds the program with Medicare and Medicaid changes. The Arc does not support paying for bills in ways that hurt Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries and urges the House of Representatives to continue seeking appropriate funding options with bipartisan support. To learn more, read The Arc’s blog post.

Health Care/Rights – Senate Holds Hearing on Wellness Programs

On October 19, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on “Examining How Healthy Choices Can Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs.” Witnesses were Steve Burd, Founder and CEO, Burd Health; Michael F. Roizen, MD, Chief Wellness Officer and Founding Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic; David A. Asch, MD, MBA, John Morgan Professor, Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School, Executive Director, Center for Health Care Innovation, University of Pennsylvania; and Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. In her testimony, Mathis discussed the negative impact that regulations that define programs as “voluntary” when they charge penalties for non-participation have on the rights of people with disabilities. Visit the committee web site to review opening statements and archived video.

Health Care – Senators Release Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Cost Sharing Subsidies

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), along with 22 other co-sponsors (11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, 1 Independent), released a bill to continue cost-sharing reductions payments under the Affordable Care Act for two years. The bill also partially restores federal funding for consumer outreach and enrollment assistance. Additionally, it makes changes to the Section 1332 waiver process, making it easier for states to get waivers of certain parts of the law, provided certain standards are maintained. For more information, read The Arc’s blog post.

Health – President Announces Changes in ACA Implementation

On October 12, President Trump issued an executive order aimed at weakening protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The order instructs agencies to identify and consider ways in which plans can be offered that do not meet the ACA’s requirements. These changes, if implemented, have the potential to drive up the cost of plans that provide adequate benefits and coverage for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. See The Arc’s statement here.

Later that day, the White House announced that it would stop cost-sharing reduction payments. The ACA requires insurance companies to substantially reduce out-of-pocket expenses for beneficiaries with incomes under 250% of the poverty level and provides for reimbursement from the federal government. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this decision is likely to increase the number of uninsured Americans, premiums, and the federal deficit. For more information, see The Arc’s blog post.

Health – Bipartisan Health Bills Move Forward

On October 4, The House Energy and Commerce Committee also approved several bills addressing a variety of issues supported by The Arc including extending funding for community health centers (H.R.3922), a two year extension of the Family to Family Health Information Centers, extending the Medicare Independence at Home Medical Practice Demonstration (H.R.3263) making permanent a provision that allows Medicare coverage for speech generating devices (H.R.2465) and several other bills. Unfortunately, the Committee also voted to reduce $6.35 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund over 10 years. The fund supports many prevention and public health programs throughout the country.

Health – CHIP Reauthorization Clears Senate and House Committees

On October 4, the Senate Finance Committee passed the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act (S.1827). This bipartisan bill reauthorizes federal funding for the next five years to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program which currently provides low-cost health insurance to roughly 8.9 million children under the age of 18 who do not qualify for Medicaid or have access to private insurance. Current federal funding expired on September 30 at the end of FY 2017. However, some states have been able to carry over this federal funding and keep their programs running longer than others. The Finance Committee has not yet indicated how they plan to fund the $8 billion needed for CHIP to continue. The bill is set to move to the Senate floor for consideration after the forthcoming recess.

Also on October 4, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable (HEALTHY KIDS) Act of 2017 (H.R.3291). This bill also reauthorizes the federal funding for the CHIP program for five years. While there was bipartisan agreement on the reauthorization, the Committee members disagree about how to pay for the bills. The bill included an increase in Medicare premiums for high income people, changes to Medicaid third party liability provisions and changes to the treatment of lottery winners to pay for the reauthorization.