The Scoop: Health Insurance News – February 17, 2021 Edition

In most states, COVID enrollment is now open.

Open enrollment in many states ended two months ago, but a new option for a one-time enrollment is now available to purchase coverage in 2021. This enrollment window is available to all uninsured individuals in the United States. In most states, this option can also be used by those who want to change their plan, or switch from an off-exchange policy to one on-exchange.

The COVID enrollment window is underway in all states, except for Idaho which announced on Monday that a special enrollment period would begin March 1. The enrollment period in nearly all states continues until May 15, although there are six state exchanges that have different end dates.

  • Connecticut – By March 15
  • Washington, DC by the end of the pandemic interval
  • Idaho – March 1, 2019 to March 31, 2019
  • Massachusetts – By Could 23
  • Minnesota – By Could 17
  • Vermont – 16 February to 14 Could

If you haven’t yet enrolled for health insurance for 2021 or if you are enrolled in a plan such as a Farm Bureau, short-term, or a well-being care sharing ministry, you can take advantage of this window to secure actual medical coverage for the rest of the year.

Keep an eye on the COVID assistance laws that Congress is considering. The COVID program may end up offering enrollees much larger and more widely available premium subsidies. It is therefore important that people get on-exchange coverage before the deadline.

CMS informs states that Medicaid requirements are being reviewed

The Biden administration began notifying states that have accepted Medicaid work requirements last week that CMS may withdraw approval of these applications. The letters were sent to Arizona, Arkansas Georgia, Indiana Nebraska, New Hampshire Ohio, South Carolina Utah and Wisconsin. They state that CMS has ” preliminarily determined that allowing work and other community engagement requirements to take effect… would not promote the goals of the Medicaid program.”

Currently, there are no Medicaid work requirements in effect. Some of these requirements have been overturned in court, others delayed voluntarily by states, while still others have been suspended due to the COVID Pandemic. States are required to adhere to the prohibition on protection terminations to receive enhanced federal Medicaid funding during the pandemic. Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arkansas v. Gresham to determine if or not a Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas approved by the Trump administration was legal.

CMS also sent a letter last week to all states who currently have 1115 waivers. This letter rescinded an earlier letter that Seema Verma, former CMS Administrator, had sent to all states at the beginning of January. Verma had stated in her letter that CMS could delay the implementation of changes for nine months if it were to withdraw or terminate approval for half or more of a state’s 1115 waiver.

South Dakota passes a bill to allow the sale of Farm Bureau Non-Insurance Plans

Last week, we informed you about a bill in South Dakota which would allow the state to join Tennessee, Kansas Iowa and Indiana by allowing Farm Bureau or other agricultural organizations domiciled in the state for at least 25 years to sell medically underwritten health plans. These plans may not be considered medical insurance, but they could be exempted from insurance laws and regulations, including state and federal guidelines.

The bill had been passed by the Senate and the South Dakota House. The GOP Governor is now taking into account the bill. Kristi Noem was a constant opponent of the Reasonably priced Care Act during her time as a member of Congress.

In other states (Michigan, for example), Farm Bureau partners with health insurers to provide ACA-compliant insurance. The Nebraska Farm Bureau partners with Medica in order to offer guaranteed-issue short term medical insurance during a limited annual enrollment period. These approaches are not the same as allowing an agricultural group provide products that are not considered medical insurance.

Kansas Senate legislation would allow Kansas short-term health plans to adhere to federal guidelines

Kansas has rules for short-term health plans that are more restrictive than federal regulations. S.B. S.B. Kansas currently limits short-term health plans to one renewal. This means that their total length cannot exceed 24 months. S.B. S.B. Biden’s administration may roll back the Trump-era rules for short-term health plans. This could make state laws that are more relaxed moot.

Aetna will rejoin the exchanges in 2022

CVS Well being/Aetna intends to offer health coverage in at least some medical insurance exchanges during the open enrollment period that starts this November. However, the insurer hasn’t yet provided details about where it will participate. Aetna previously provided coverage in some exchanges but had left all of them at the end of 2017 and hasn’t participated since. CVS/Aetna joining the exchanges will continue the trend that was established in 2019 and 2020. Insurers have been joining or rejoining exchanges after many insurers including Aetna left in 2017 and 2018.

Aetna had already left the medical insurance exchanges before CVS acquired the company. The exit was controversial and tied to the Department of Justice’s decision to block a merger between Humana Aetna. David Anderson wrote a piece about it in 2016 and Charles Gaba put together a timeline detailing Aetna’s 2016 decision-making process.

Washington State Senate Committee approves laws for gender affirming healthcare protection

Washington lawmakers are considering S.B. The Washington state legislature is considering S.B. Insurance companies would not be able to deny coverage for services that transgender people want, such as breast implants, breast reductions and facial feminization. By classifying them under beauty procedures.

Last week, the Washington Senate Committee on Health and Long-Term Care overwhelmingly approved the bill.

Rhode Island law would impose a fee for a single-payer health care program

Last week, a law was passed in Rhode Island that mandates the creation of an unbiased legislative committee to ” conduct a full research on the pros and cons of implementing single-payer health insurance in Rhode Island.” It also notes that a ” enhanced Medicare-for all type single-payer program ” could be in the state’s best interest. Currently, there should be no single-payer health care systems in place. However, other states are considering similar research.

West Virginia launches Medicaid Buy-in Laws

In a few states, laws have been passed this year that could create Medicaid buy-in programs. H.B. West Virginia has become the latest state to consider this opportunity. It is a way to offer a public option program that allows residents who would not otherwise be eligible for Medicaid to purchase Medicaid coverage as an alternative to purchasing personal medical insurance. Nevada is the only state that has enacted Medicaid buy-in legislation. However, the governor of Nevada vetoed the law.


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