END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Louisiana

Maybe Tom Price is trying to take the heat off of his chartered jet shenanigans, but whatever the reason, this is welcome news:

CMS Announces Special Enrollment Periods for Americans Impacted by Recent Hurricanes
Agency provides special open enrollment periods for 2017 Medicare and Exchange coverage

As a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make available special enrollment periods for all Medicare beneficiaries and certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. This important step gives these individuals and families who have been impacted by the hurricanes the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange immediately if eligible for a special enrollment period.

The past few weeks, while trying to push the Godawful "Graham-Cassidy" ACA repeal bill, Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy has used the following as one of his standard talking points:

.@BillCassidy shares the story of a Louisiana man paying more than $40,000 for his special needs son’s health care under Obamacare. pic.twitter.com/AaZ0IQIfF7

— GOP (@GOP) September 21, 2017

He's posted several variants of the "$40,000 premium" tweet of late.

The tweet above includes an embedded Twitter video, which I've reposted to YouTube:

 

Here's the latest enrollment data from the Louisiana Department of Health.

I've embedded screen shots below, but there's various interactive stuff you can do at the site itself; LA did a very nice job, I'd love it if every state put up a similar "dashboard" style website.

In short:

  • 434,594 Louisianans enrolled in Medicaid via ACA expansion
  • 126,229 have received preventative care
  • 22,058 women have received breast cancer screenings
    • 225 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of ACA Medicaid expansion
  • 13,994 adults have received a colon cancer screening
    • 4,337 have averted colon cancer by having polyps removed
    • 199 have been diagnosed with colon cancer thanks to ACA Medicaid expansion
  • 3,774 have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • 9,575 have been diagnosed with hypertension
  • 32,912 are receiving outpatient mental health services
  • 6,025 are receiving inpatient mental health services
  • 5,559 are receiving outpatient substance abuse services
  • 6,026 are receiving residential substance abuse services

Louisiana was one of the last states I ran rate hike analysis on just a month ago: Three carriers on the exchange (plus the "Freedom Life" phantom carrier), averaging around 21.4% rate increases on the assumption that CSR payments won't be made. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, loading CSRs onto Silver plans only would bump them up by an additional 20 points; this translates into roughly 14.2 points if spread across all metal levels on & off the exchange. Based on that, I estimated LA's rate increases at 21.4% without CSRs but only 7.2% if they actually are paid.

Thanks once again to Louise Norris for doing the grunt work regarding the approved rate changes, which are...pretty much identical to what was requested by the carriers:

Proposed 2018 rates much higher than they would have been if CSR funding had been appropriated early in 2017

On Sunday, HHS Secretary Tom Price officially called it in Texas:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, declared a public health emergency in Texas on Saturday as Hurricane Harvey was pounding the state's coast.

Harvey made landfall late Friday night with winds topping 130 mph. Forecasts called for the storm to hover over the state for 5 days or more, possibly drenching some areas with as much as 50 inches of rain. Hundreds of thousands were without power and the National Weather Service said parts of Texas could be "uninhabitable for weeks or months."

"Many Medicare beneficiaries have been evacuated to neighboring communities where receiving hospitals and nursing homes may have no health care records, information on current health status or even verification of the person's status as a Medicare beneficiary. Due to the emergency declaration and other actions taken by HHS, CMS is able to waive certain documentation requirements to help ensure facilities can deliver care," an HHS statement read.

Louisiana has 3 individual market carriers for 2018 (technically there's 4, but "Freedom Life" is basically just a shell company with a placeholder filing). Officially, they're requesting average rate increases averaging around 21.4%...but all three carriers state point-blank in their filing letters that a huge chunk of their request is due specifically to the CSR reimbursement and mandate enforcement issues. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the CSR issue alone adds around 20 points to Silver plans, and 71% of Louisiana exchange enrollees chose Silver, so that translatest into roughly 14.2 points across the whole market. This results in just a 7.2% average rate hike if CSR payments are made vs. 21.4% if they aren't:

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

I noted in February that enrollment in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program had increased by around 35,000 people across just 4 states (LA, MI, MN & PA).

It's early June now, so I checked in once more, and the numbers have continued to grow. I have the direct links for 5 states now (including New Hampshire)...

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

I noted in February that enrollment in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program had increased by around 35,000 people across just 4 states (LA, MI, MN & PA). By the end of March, the numbers in these 4 states had gone up by another 19,300.

It's the end of April now, so I checked in once more, and sure enough, the numbers continue to grow:

Of the 31 states which have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, only a handful issue regular monthly or weekly enrollment reports.

Back on February 28th I noted that ACA Medicaid expansion enrollment across three states (Michigan, Louisiana and Pennsylvania) had grown by about 35,000 people since mid-January, to 667K, 406K and 716K people respectively.

Today, a month later, I decided to take another look at all three states, along with Minnesota (which I forgot to check last month). Sure enough, enrollment has continued to grow in all four, albeit at a slower pace:

Over the past month or so, I've been tallying up the number of people who would lose their healthcare coverage if and when the GOP actually does proceed with repealing the Affordable Care Act, breaking the totals out by both County and Congressional District in every state.

While this project has received high praise as a useful resource, one problem with it is that the numbers aren't static--between the high churn rate of the individual market and Medicaid, as well as the fact there's no limited enrollment period for Medicaid (you can sign up year-round), the enrollment figures are constantly changing.

Case in point: Just two weeks ago, roughly 400.000 Louisianans were enrolled in ACA Medicaid expansion. As of yesterday that number had increased to nearly 406,000.

I'm updating the spreadsheet versions now, but in the meantime, here's the latest county-level breakout:

UPDATED 2/19/17 with more recent data (final OE4 exchange enrollment data & February 2017 Medicaid expansion data):

Louisiana just expanded Medicaid via the Affordable Care Act last July, and as of Februay 16th had over 400,000 residents enrolled in the expansion program. All of those people would be kicked right back off of that coverage again if the ACA is repealed. In just 7 1/2 months...

  • 58,713​ Adults have received preventive healthcare or new patient services

I know you're supposed to only use a brief paragraph or two, but this Sept. 19th AP/New Orleans Times-Picayune story only consists of five sentences anyway:

BATON ROUGE — The number of people who have signed up for Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program continues to grow, surpassing 300,000.

The Louisiana Department of Health released the latest figures Monday, saying more than 304,000 people are enrolled for the coverage that began July 1.

The department says nearly 12,000 Medicaid expansion enrollees have received preventive services through the government-finance insurance program so far, like cancer screenings, colonoscopies, and mammograms.

 The maximum number of Louisianans eligible for Medicaid expansion in the state is supposedly around 375,000. Enrollment began in June (though the program didn't actually go into effect until July), so that's 81% of the total enrolled within just 3 1/2 months.

A quickie: Just 5 days ago it was reported that...

As of the beginning of August265,723 low-income Louisianians have newly signed up for Medicaid, according to state officials.

Well, according to NOLA reporter Kevin Litten just now...

INBOX: Medicaid expansion in Louisiana topped 278,000 people on Wednesday. That leaves about 100k people to sign up to hit goal by 2017.

— Kevin Litten (@kevinlitten) August 10, 2016

That's a net increase of 12,277 people in just 9 days, or over 1,300 per day.

There are an estimated 375,000 Louisianans eligible for ACA Medicaid expansion. If they can enroll another 700/day, they'll have maxed out by New Year's Eve.

I'm finally taking a break for my final batch of 2017 Rate Request states to focus on some good news out of Louisiana:

Patients burst into tears at this city’s glistening new charity hospital when they learned they could get Medicaid health insurance.

In Baton Rouge, state officials had to bring in extra workers to process the flood of applications for coverage.

And at the call center for one of Louisiana’s private Medicaid plans, operators recorded their busiest day on record.

The outpouring began in June, when Louisiana became the 31st state to offer expanded Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act, effectively guaranteeing health insurance to its residents for the first time.

Now, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump promises to repeal the healthcare law, Louisiana is emerging as a powerful illustration of the huge pent-up demand for health insurance, particularly in red states where elected officials have fought the 2010 law.

Supreme Court grants emergency order to block transgender male student in Virginia from using boys' restroom

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Louisiana had seen jaw-dropping success with their ACA Medicaid expansion launch, enrolling over 175,000 people in the program in the first 12 hours of the floodgates opening. It later turned out that there was a reason for this astonishing figure: 

1. Virtually all of those enrolled as of yesterday, a total of 189,000 by day's end, were transfers from existing limited-benefit public plans. These include 132,000 enrollees in Take Charge Plus, a program focused mainly on family planning, along with a few free office visits; and 56,000 from the Greater New Orleans Health Connection (GNOHC), a no-cost primary care program for low income people in the greater New Orleans area. GNOHC does not provide drug or hospital coverage.

...which is perfectly fine as well; it still lifts a huge financial burden off of the state while streamlining and consolidating enrollees into the larger Medicaid program itself.

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