Charles Gaba's blog

About three weeks ago I noted that the Nevada state Senate had passed a bill which locks in many of the ACA's patient protections at the state level, just in case the idiotic #TexasFoldEm lawsuit prevails and the ACA is repealed after all.

Yesterday, the Nevada state House followed through as well:

Nevada stands to become the fifth state to fully incorporate the federal Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions into state law after unanimous passage of a bill Tuesday in the state Senate.

"Fully incorporate" isn't quite accurate; as I noted with the Senate version, it looks like the three most important ones are covered (Guaranteed Issue, Community Rating and the ACA's 10 Essential Health Benefits), along with a pre-ACA law letting young adults stay on their parents plan until age 24 (but only if they're unmarried and enrolled in school).

A few days ago I noted that North Dakota had jumped onto the ACA reinsurance train; now it looks like Montana is onboard as well:

Governor Signs Bill Meant to Lower Some Insurance Premiums

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock has signed legislation meant to lower premiums for Montana customers who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace.

Bullock signed the bill Tuesday creating a reinsurance program to help reimburse insurers for high-cost claims so those costs aren’t included in determining individual marketplace premiums for the following year.

U.S. health officials also must approve the plan, which is estimated to offset 2020 premium increases by 10% to 20%.

After writing about the newly-signed laws in Georgia and Ohio banning virtually all abortions after 6 weeks (when most women don't even know they're pregnant), even in most cases of rape, incest of the health of the mother, I didn't think that a story about abortion-related legislation could get more horrific and insane.

I was wrong:

A new Ohio bill would ban most private insurance coverage for abortions. Opponents say it would also ban effective methods of birth control.

One-fifth of representatives in the House, all Republicans, have signed onto House Bill 182 sponsored by state Rep. John Becker (R-Union Twp.) that would prohibit most insurance companies from offering coverage for abortion services.

“The intent is to save lives and reduce the cost of employers and employees health care insurance," Becker says.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out that the Supreme Court has ruled that minors can't receive the death penalty, so I guess that means "only" life in prison for them. If they're 18 or older, however...

On the other hand, several people have noted that an 11-year old pelvis isn't generally developed enough to even deliver a baby safely, along with other health risks, so it could very well be a death sentence regardless, so I'm leaving the headline as is.

Georgia's "pro-life" Republicans have passed a law that would subject a woman who self-terminates after six weeks to life imprisonment or capital punishment. https://t.co/vbBpfRzIgj @Slate pic.twitter.com/Djqn0LbLf6

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 7, 2019

 

IMPORTANT: SUBMIT COMMENTS TO THE OMB REGARDING THIS ATTEMPT TO HURT POOR PEOPLE AT THIS LINK BY MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY, JUNE 21st.

In the far simpler days of 2001, when the President of the United States didn't suck up to genocidal dictators and thank Russia for helping him win the Electoral College, an episode of The West Wing aired entitled "The Indians in the Lobby".

I was instantly reminded of the scene above* (in reverse) when I read this story by Justin Sink at Bloomberg News:

The Trump administration may alter the way it determines the national poverty threshold, putting Americans living on the margins at risk of losing access to welfare programs.

For years, Michigan, the state which put America on the road, has held the dubious honor of having the highest auto insurance premiums in the nation:

Michigan is the most expensive state for car insurance for the sixth consecutive year.

The Wolverine State is in a league of its own when it comes to car insurance with an average annual premium that is $313 higher than that of Louisiana, which ranked second. A Michigan car insurance policy averages $2,611, which is almost 80 percent higher than the national average of $1,457.

Louisiana remained in second place for the third year in a row, while Florida secured third place. Oklahoma and Washington D.C. rounded out the top five.

In most cases, a high number of uninsured drivers combined with less than stellar weather and high population density led these states onto the most expensive states for car insurance list.

There's several reasons for this, but one stands out above all others:

Last fall I wrote about Yet Another Sabotage Attack® on the ACA by the Trump administration, this time in the form of CMS Administrator Seema Verma completely warping the entire point behind the 1332 Waiver provision. Here's the backstory:

One of the great strengths and dangers of the ACA is that it includes tools for individual states to modify the law to some degree by improving how it works at the local level. The main way this can be done is something called a "Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver":

Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permits a state to apply for a State Innovation Waiver to pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance while retaining the basic protections of the ACA.

Last September I noted that North Dakota was considering going one of two ways when it comes to making a major change in their individual insurance market: EIther joining over a half-dozen other states in pushing for a reinsurance program (which I strongly support doing), or going the other way and starting to offer weaker policies without some ACA protections the way states like Idaho, Tennessee, Iowa and Kansas either already do or are in the process of doing.

Fortunately, it looks like they ultimately decided to go the former route after all:

The bill started out on the right track...

Florida lawmakers approved a health insurance bill Wednesday that would require insurers keep covering pre-existing conditions if the Affordable Care Act disappears, though the bill would not keep protections in the federal law to control how much those patients can be charged.

...but quickly went off the rails after that:

The bill, Senate Bill 322, which the House approved by a 70-42 vote after the Senate passed it last week, would also expand short-term and association health plans and change requirements for “essential health benefits” covered by insurers, regardless of the status of the Affordable Care Act. It must be approved again by the Senate before it heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

A few minutes ago the Congressional Budget Office released a new report on a national, universal single payer healthcare system (commonly known as "Medicare for All" these days, although that's a bit of a misnomer since the proposed "Medicare for All" bills are quite different from today's definition of Medicare).

It's important to note that while this report came from the CBO, it is not a budget analysis of either the House or Senate MFA bills; it instead lays out the structural components which would be required to be in place in order to put such a system together and, I presume, in order to run such a budget analysis.

I'm swamped today between the rollouts of both the Choose Medicare Act and the revised Medicare for America Act as well as this new CBO report, so for the moment I'll just repost the summary and link to the report itself, along with a few notes as I'm able to add them:

NOTE: Back in January, I wrote up an extensive explainer about the "Medicare for America" (Med4Am) universal healthcare coverage bill introduced in December by Democratic Representatives (and Progressive Caucus members, I might add) Rosa DeLauro and Jan Schakowsky.

Regular readers know that I've been a fan of the basic #Med4Am framework for over a year, dating back to the "Medicare Extra for All" proposal introduced by the Center for American Progress (CAP) back in April 2018.

Yesterday, DeLauro & Schakowsky have introduced a modified, improved version of Medicare for America, with some important changes. I'm therefore posting an updated version of my January explainer of the bill, with notes about what's changed since the December version.

A little over a year ago, on March 21, 2018, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a robust ACA 2.0 upgrade bill in the U.S. Senate called the "Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act", or CHIPA. It was largely a companion bill to a House version which had been introduced a couple of weeks earlier by Reps. Frank Pallone, Bobby Scott and Richard Neal, although there were some significant differences as well.

At the time, I noted that besides both bills including many "wish list" items which I've been hoping would be added to the ACA for several years now, Warren's Senate CHIPA bill was also noteworthy for one other reason: The list of cosponsors:

...Sanders is actually a co-sponsor of the Warren bill, as are Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.).

NOTE: I'm adding some additional commentary to this post throughout the day, so reload it later on if you're curious about my thoughts, but I wanted to at least get the main info out there early.

Regular readers of this site know that I'm a big fan of Reps Rosa DeLauro & Jan Schakowsky's "Medicare for America" universal coverage bill, which is scheduled to be officialy re-introduced later on today (with some significant changes from the original version introduced back in December).

However, "Medicare for America" and "Medicare for All" are not the only "major healthcare reform" bills being tossed around DC these days. There's actually eight of them total (technically nine, but two of those are the House & Senate MFA versions, which are nearly identical). Of the eight, only two of them actually guarantee 100% universal healthcare coverage, which is part of the reason #MFA and #Med4Am receive so much attention.

Back in February, I issued a strong warning to House Democrats to proceed with caution when it comes to the prospect of agreeing to reinstate the Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) reimbursement payments which Donald Trump cut off back in October 2017:

  • Had CSR reimbursement payments continued to be paid over the next decade, the CBO projected that it would have cost the federal government $118 billion between 2018 - 2026, or around $13 billion per year on average.
  • Cutting off CSR reimbursement payments saves the federal government that $118 billion over 9 years. HOWEVER...

 

Regular readers know that I'm a strong supporter of going with the "Medicare for America"-style approach to achieving universal heatlhcare coverage as opposed to the "Medicare for All" proposal. Regardless, this is still an historic moment in U.S. history:

Chairman McGovern, Congresswoman Jayapal, and Congresswoman Dingell Announce Historic Rules Committee Hearing on the Medicare for All Act

WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) announced today that the House Rules Committee will hold an original jurisdiction hearing on the Medicare for All Act of 2019 on Tuesday, April 30th at 10am ET in H-313, The Capitol. It marks the first time Congress has ever held a hearing on Medicare for All. Witnesses will be announced later this week. 

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