Help Ensure Healthcare Coverage for All

Dear PPA Colleagues,

Open Enrollment has begun, and ends on December 15th.  We all need to help ensure that those without healthcare coverage, or those who need help continuing coverage, get the help they need.  This not only includes our patients and co-workers (inclusive of workers who provide us assistance in our homes), but also our friends and acquaintances.  We need to act not only in Massachusetts, but also in other states where we can extend our reach.  Here are some bullet points for you to know and share:

  • Having failed at repeal, Trump is attempting to shut down the ACA marketplaces through other means:
  1. Advertising budget.   The Trump Administration has cut the federal ACA advertising budget from $100 million in 2017 to $10 million in 2018.
  2. Navigator budget.  They have cut the support for the navigator program from 62.5 million to 37 million.  Grants ran out for navigator programs on September 1 2017.  Budget requests were sent to CMS but it is unclear if any funding requests will be approved.  The uncertainty is effectively pausing the federally funded navigator programs.

Many organizations, including the Commonwealth Fund in Massachusetts, have shown that better information and navigator assistance dramatically improves enrollment (from 48% to 66%).

  1.  Reimbursements.  Trump has threatened to cut or even prevent federal reimbursement payments to the participating insurers.   Some insurers have left the ACA marketplace for other reasons, but should he succeed in this (which seems the least likely of the 3 announced measures), others might choose to do the same.
  • Premium Costs.   Despite the rhetoric about rising premiums, the current reality is that many of the marketplaces have been stabilized through a variety of means (see one such program is in this link http://www.startribune.com/follow-minnesota-s-lead-with-reinsurance-to-stabilize-health-care-premiums/449321633/).    No one should decide not to enroll or renew based on this rhetoric.    One factor stabilizing premiums is the increasing enrollment of young and healthy people, and not just the older, sicker and more vulnerable populations.   Without education about the availability of affordable care to young people, who may not think they need it, premiums will rise.   Trump has already said this.   We all know young people who have outgrown their parent’s coverage.

We ask that everyone

  1.  Think about the people they know here, and in other states where they have friends and family, who may not have health care coverage.   Take some time to talk to them and help them understand the importance of coverage, and the importance of enrolling now.  Almost all states have websites about local education and navigation programs.  If you feel the person will need additional assistance, find the resources and help them get connected.
  2.  If you attend any place of worship, ask them what they are doing to aid in this effort, and if they aren’t, help them do this.
  3. Ask any other NGO you work with to do the same.
  4. Ask any other business or workplace in your community, whose employees might benefit, to do the same (through spouses, friends, collaborators, etc)

Here are some resources for people looking to sign up or renew in the marketplace, and for those of us who are advising them.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.

  1.  Mass General Patient Financial Service.  Telephone 617-726-2191.  They will take calls and provide advice and make appointments by phone.   The two offices are Wang ACC first floor and Yawkey 2nd floor, and patients can walk in.   Even if the person you are talking to doesn’t yet get health care at MGH, they can go to this office and say that they would like to get health care at any of our sites and benefit from this service.
  2. Health Care For All.    https://www.hcfama.org/.  They have multilingual telephone advice, navigators, on site information sessions.
  3. Doctors for America.   http://www.drsforamerica.org/take-action/get-people-covered
  4. Health Care. Gov.  https://www.healthcare.gov/

Nesli, Corey, Kathryn, Regina for PPA