Keeping an eye on coverage
While the end of March brought us the Trump administration’s move to overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, there are several other recent developments that impact access to health insurance for millions of Americans.
Here are three worth knowing:
Judge James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia blocked Kentucky and Arkansas’ attempts to require that individuals who receive publicly funded health insurance be required to work or perform community service. This decision not only stays the work requirements, but it sets a precedent that may prevent other states from enacting or continuing similar requirements, which have risen in popularity.
“So far, the Trump administration has allowed eight states to begin requiring many of their Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or train for a job to be eligible for benefits. Seven other states are seeking permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to impose similar rules.” – The New York Times
More than 18,000 people have lost coverage in Arkansas since the rules went into effect last June. Opponents of work requirements argue, in part, that such requirements are inconsistent with the original intent of Medicaid and its mission to provide access to healthcare coverage.
HANYS will continue to monitor how state Medicaid programs and litigation decisions impact Medicaid coverage.
Association health plans
Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia struck another blow to the Trump administration on March 28 with his decision to halt the formation of association health plans. These plans would have allowed small businesses to ban together to form plans outside of the health exchanges and would not be subject to many of the required consumer protections in the ACA.
There are some people who believe such plans would improve access to health insurance. Others believe such plans would fragment the insurance markets in and outside of the exchanges, causing destabilization in otherwise well-functioning insurance markets.
HANYS will continue to monitor the fate of association health plans.
The Centene-WellCare deal
Finally, one of the biggest insurers in the country, Centene, indicated it will be purchasing another insurance giant, WellCare. Combined, the merged entity will provide insurance to 22 million individuals. With this acquisition, Centene now enters New York’s Medicare Advantage market, in addition to expanding its footprint in Medicaid.
The consolidation of insurance companies has been happening at a rapid pace in recent years. For example, Centene finalized its acquisition of Fidelis Care in 2018; WellCare, soon to be owned by Centene, acquired Universal American Corp. in 2017.
HANYS will continue to monitor these developments to understand the impacts on coverage and healthcare.