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In the News . . . Just in Case You Missed It

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)

First-in-the-nation partnership between the Massachusetts Health Connector and the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX), which operates DC Health Link. Read more here.

For more information regarding the DC-Massachusetts partnership, Read more here.


Washington Business Journal: What repeal? D.C.'s health exchange plows forward with plans for 2018

Article covers announcement by DCHBX Board to require participating health insurance companies on the individual market to offer HSA-compatible bronze plans in 2018, showing that DC Health Link is moving forward despite recent talk on Capitol Hill. Read more here


Some SBEs Report Double-Digit Enrollment Gains for 2017

AISHealth – News, Data and Management Strategies on the Business on Health Care 
Reprinted from HEALTH PLAN WEEK, the most reliable source of objective business, financial and regulatory news of the health insurance industry. 

Steve Davis, Managing Editor (February 6, 2017 Volume 27 Issue 5)

With the Jan. 31 conclusion of the open-enrollment period (OEP), state-based exchanges (SBEs) say sign-ups are up markedly from a year ago, with a large boost coming during the final two days for some states. Read more about DC Health Link’s OEP 4 preliminary enrollment data here


Washington Business Journal: The Affordable Care Act's (possibly final) enrollment figures are in for D.C., Maryland

By Tina Reed - 2/1/2017, 6:29pm EST  

The numbers for Affordable Care Act enrollment for 2017 are in for marketplaces in the District and Maryland.

Enrollment season ended Jan. 31. Despite uncertainty about the future of the ACA, the fourth and potentially final enrollment period under former President Barack Obama's signature health reform law remained strong, officials said Wednesday.

On the District's marketplace, D.C. Health Link, officials reported individual signups for private health plans reached 23,632 for the 2017 season. Enrollment was up 3 percent over 2016, which had a total of 22,912 signups. Of D.C.'s total enrollments, 7,179 people — or 30 percent — were new customers, officials said.

In Maryland, overall enrollment for individual seeking private plans in Maryland Health Connection reached 157,637, down about 3 percent from 162,652 in 2016. Of Maryland's total enrollments, 62,979 people — or 40 percent — were new customers, officials said.

The Trump administration and members of Congress have already taken initial steps to repeal the healthcare law, though their plan to replace it, if they plan to replace it, remains unclear.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for final enrollment figures on Virginia enrollments on Healthcare.gov.


HHS Secretary Burwell will sign up for Obamacare

By Jennifer Haberkorn - 01/17/17 02:20 PM EST

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will be signing up for Obamacare.

Burwell, who has led implementation of the Affordable Care Act for more than two years, plans to sign up for coverage on DC’s health insurance exchange when her federal employee plan ends — even as Republicans wrestle with how to repeal the law.

“I’m going onto the DC marketplace,” she told reporters on Tuesday, adding that her husband has a pre-existing condition that could have prevented them from getting coverage before the health law was passed. Read More .


2017 Health Insurance Exchanges: Lessons for the Online Health Insurance Marketplace: DC Heath Link Ranks #1 
Clear Choices Issues Grades for Each Exchange’s Online Comparison-Shopping Experience
By Clear Choices (January 31, 2017) 

Today, the last day of the Affordable Care Act's 2017 open enrollment period, the Clear Choices Campaign issued its second annual report card for the 12 state-based health insurance exchange websites and HealthCare.gov. A multi-stakeholder advocacy campaign, representing patients, providers, insurers, employers, and life science companies, Clear Choices is dedicated to improving health care transparency. DC Health Link topped the list scoring 92 out of 100. The average exchange website scored 66 out of a possible 100. Read More Here 

About Clear Choices - Founded in 2015 by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, the Clear Choices Campaign is a multi-stakeholder advocacy campaign designed to promote health care transparency and offer better comparison shopping tools for consumers. Members include AARP, Aetna, HealthCare.com, Novo Nordisk, and the National Consumers League. 


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also better known as Obama Care is in its 4th enrollment period ending on January 31, 2017.
Audio Clip from Univision - January 10, 2017

 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also better known as Obama Care is in its 4th enrollment period ending on January 31, 2017. The number of people in the US without health insurance has decreased more than 20 million since 2010. As of now, the ones who have received the most benefit are adults between 19 to 34 years old, minorities, and single people. According to a recent study by The Common Wealth Fund, 40% of Hispanics in DC do not have health insurance yet. Hispanics Leaders in the DC area are making efforts to promote, educate, and motivate the Latino community to get quality health insurance during the National ACA Latino Week of Action. 


Latino Leaders encourage to Enroll in Obamacare
El Tiempo Latino - January 10, 2017

Community leaders and experts from the health sector and immigration affirmed that the community affected by the imminent revocation of ACA will have full support from the public and private organizations so that families don’t lose coverage.  That’s how it was expressed at the Health Leadership Symposium: “The Impact of Repealing the ACA for the immigrant Community” organized by The Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and DC Health Link during the National Latino Week of Action.  A few days from the presidential inauguration and the announced revocation of ACA in the Congress, DC Health Link is doubling their efforts to motivate Latinos to enroll in affordable health insurance during the Latino Week of Action. 

There is a debate in the US Congress whether it is convenient to revoke Obamacare imminently without having a new plan in place.  Trump advised democrats about the risk of being against his orders, especially to the senators from some states that have to opt for reelection in 2018.  In spite of this uncertainty, Latino leaders in the health sector encourage the community to enroll in health services during the National Latino Week of Action which ends this Sunday January 15. Read more here


The Rush to Get Millennials Health Insurance Before the Possible Repeal of Obamacare

By DeNeen Brown, The Washington Post  - 1/23/2017

The outreach workers joined the line at a Michael “Air” Jordan shoe launch. They went to Denny’s after the District’s clubs had closed. They hung out at happy hours with $4 drinks and $7 bar food, laundromats, gyms, and Sunday brunches. This month, as Republicans in Congress moved to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and President Trump signed an executive order weakening its provisions, D.C. health insurance exchange officials were rushing to sign up millennials before the open enrollment period ends Jan. 31. Read more here


DC Power Up Gathered About 300 Owners and Managers of Small Businesses With the Subject of Health As A  Priority

By Thomas Guevara - 5/13/2016, 24:19

The national capital is one of the sites in the metropolitan area with strong potential for startup small and medium businesses in an amalgam of goods and services offered with high expectations of success, but which also need to promote health care for employees and owners. The event called POWER UP DC held on Tuesday, May 3, at a hotel in downtown Washington DC, brought together hundreds of small business owners as well as business managers to exchange information with government agencies and other offices that provide help to assist in businesses’ growth and provide essential information on health benefits.

The executive director of DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, Mila Kofman, one of the organizers of the event, told El Tiempo Latino that this meeting's main objective is to connect a variety of agencies with potential beneficiaries of programs to let them know about the opportunities that exist in the field of health care and insurance. Read more here (Spanish)


Power Up Summit to Offer Insight, Resources for Small Businesses

Dorothy Rowley | 4/4/2016, 12:28 p.m. | Updated on 4/13/2016, 3 p.m.

Just a few years ago, the D.C. metropolitan area boasted more than 100,000 small businesses.

The area also ranked among the top places to jump-start a small business, according to CNN Money, which at the time, shared that prospective business owners found that the costs of setting up shop in the region -which includes the cities of Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia as well as Prince George’s County -was usually outweighed by the advantages of being within reach of a lucrative consumer base.

However, one of the greatest challenges for small businesses – particularly those owned and operated by minorities – continues to be the lack of that all-important positive cash flow, so essential to helping to grow and keep the establishments afloat. Read more here

The Future Of The Individual And Small Group Market Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health

The Affordable Care Act included provisions for online health insurance exchanges where individuals and small employers can shop for health insurance coverage and determine if they are eligible for tax credits and other subsidies. State and federal marketplaces for individual enrollees are up and running, but they face ongoing challenges maintaining affordable and attractive products. Meanwhile, implementation of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges has been delayed and has not provided small businesses with the new coverage options the law's architects envisioned. Read more here ….


Since the exchange opened for business on October 1, DC Health Link has enrolled 20,290 people. This includes District residents who enrolled in private health plans and in Medicaid, as well as people with coverage through their employers. Please see below for more information.

Articles on Data Release:

 


On Friday (1/10/14), President Obama had lunch with five young people who are encouraging their peers to obtain health insurance – and one of them is Certified DC Health Link Assister Andres Cruz grantee organization Mary’s Center, a federally qualified health center that provides family literacy, social services, and health care regardless of participants ability to pay – for more than six years.

Articles on Lunch with President Obama (including photos and video):


‘No one is going to be left behind:’ An interview with the District’s Obamacare head

By Sarah Kliff, Washingtonpost.com, September 27, 2013
 

Obamacare sneak peek: A first look at the small business exchange in Washington

By J.D. Harrison, Washingtonpost.com, September 26, 2013

Read more here...


Obamacare driving down health insurance costs for small businesses in Washington

By J.D. Harrison - Washington Post, July 26, 2013
 
Obamacare is starting to have some of its intended effects on the price of insurance for small businesses, particularly in the city in which it was enacted.
 
District officials last week announced that, for the third time since they started posting proposed plans on a new health insurance marketplace for small businesses, an insurer has lowered its initial prices for coverage. It is a sign, they say, that the marketplace will help bring down health costs for businesses, which have skyrocketed in recent years. Read more here....

Little understanding of health-care law opens door for scams, government says

Washington Post, July 14, 2013

If a stranger claiming to be from the government calls to offer you an “Obamacare card” or threatens to throw you in jail unless you buy insurance, hang up the phone. It’s a scam. Read more here ….


Some States Are Pushing ‘Employee Choice’ For Small Business Insurance

By Julie Appleby - Kaiser Health News, July 11, 2013
 
Small business workers in at least 15 states and the District of Columbia may have a menu of health insurance choices next year, something that didn’t seem likely a few months ago.
 
Back in April, federal officials concerned about the potential for major glitches put off until 2015 a provision that would offer small businesses owners a way to allow their employees to choose from among a variety of competing plans in the new online marketplaces being overseen by the Obama administration. 
 
Similar to last week’s announcement of a one-year delay in the requirement that businesses with 50 or more workers provide coverage or pay a fine, the move to delay the “employee choice provision” was cited by opponents as an example that the health law was in trouble. Read more here ….

DC Council Will Get Insurance Exchange Legislation Next

Posted by Ben Fischer Staff Reporter - Washington Business Journal, April 10, 2012

The fight over the District's health insurance exchange now heads to the DC Council.

Mayor Vincent Gray plans to introduce a bill in the next three or four days that would enact major changes in the way medical coverage is bought and sold in the city. The changes were approved by the executive board of the DC Health Benefit Exchange in a series of votes this winter and spring.

Count on 90 percent of the legislative fight to focus on the so-called "closed market" rule: the proposed rule requiring all companies with 50 or fewer workers to buy insurance through the exchange, rather than on the open market as they can do today. Read more here ...


DC Health Exchange Board Votes to Prohibit Insurers From Charging Smokers Higher Premiums

DCist.com – April 10, 2013

DC is moving ahead in creating its health exchange—the marketplace for individual and small group insurance plans required under the provisions of President Obama's health care reform—and the board responsible for it yesterday voted to bar insurers ... Read more here ...


Smokers Will Pay Same Rates as Nonsmokers in DC Insurance Exchange

Posted by Mike Debonis - Washington Post (blog), April 9, 2013

Mohammad N. Akhter, chair of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange board and a former city health director, said the authority had no hard data on what cost impact banning tobacco surcharges might have on nonsmoker premiums. But he said the vote furthers ... Read more here ... 


DC exchange to start with menu plans on menu

LifeHealthPro

The board of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority -- the "HBX" -- wants the HBX to start life with a feature that will wow small-employer users. The HBX board has decided that the DC "Small Business Health Options Program" (SHOP ... Read more here ...


DC Health Benefit Exchange Board Votes to Maximize Choice for ...

April 5, 2013

Small businesses (those with 50 or fewer employees) will be able to offer health benefits to their workers through the DC Exchange, an on-line marketplace in ... Read more here ...


COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ... - Washington, DC

April 3, 2012

Proposed Resolution 20-161, the “Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment. Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2013”. • Bill 20-194, the “ Health ... Read more here ...


DC exchange: Who's in?

LifeHealthPro – Posted by Allison Bell – April 4, 2013

The District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Agency wants to find out what companies might sell medical insurance and dental coverage through the D.C. exchange. The agency has put out a request for letters of intent from would-be DC exchange ... Read more here ...


First Peek at Health-Law Cost

Posted By LOUISE RADNOFSKY and ANNA WILDE MATHEWS – April 1, 2013

Two health-insurance carriers in Vermont are proposing to keep their rates about flat next year when the Obama health-law overhaul takes full effect, a development that experts say is unlikely to be matched in other states where premiums could surge.

Vermont on Monday became the first state to signal how much insurers are seeking to charge when the federal law kicks in.

But because benefits in the state's plans are already relatively close to meeting most of the law's requirements, insurers didn't need to make major changes to the relatively costly policies they already offer.

In contrast, the federal law's requirements that insurers must enroll all customers regardless of their medical history or claims, limit what they pay out of pocket for care, and cover a wide range of benefits could boost insurance costs in other states that have had less stringent rules in place. Subsidies would offset part of potential increases for lower-income consumers. Read more here …


DC health exchange offers hope - Washington Business Journal

Post by Guest Columnists- Dr. Mohammad Akhter and Mila Kofman –Washington Business Journal – March 29, 2013

This month marked the third anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care . ..Read more here ...


DC insurance board won't limit plans within exchange

Post by Ben Fischer, Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal - March 22, 2013

The DC Health Benefit Exchange's executive board approved on Friday rules designed to lure insurance plans into the government-run marketplace and established guidelines to keep things simple for consumers.

Under the new rules, there will be no limit on how many different plans an insurer can offer through the exchange. Some states are taking a harder line in regulating participation, but the DC group is trying to overcome the jurisdiction's small size by opening the doors widely. Read more here…


What’s it like building DC’s Obamacare exchange? ‘Organized chaos.’

Posted by Sarah Kliff , Washington Post - March 18, 2013

When asked to describe what it’s like to build an insurance market from scratch, D.C. Health Benefits Exchange Executive Director Mila Kofman settled on two words: “Organized chaos.” Read more here …


Transition plan approved for DC health exchange

Posted by Lori Sharns, Reporter for CEO DATELINE – March 14, 2013

Washington, DC-based associations with 50 or fewer employees will have at least one more year to transition to the city’s new health insurance market. The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority unanimously approved a transition plan March 13.

During this transition, small businesses wanting to buy coverage for their employees for the first time in 2014—as well as consumers buying individual plans—must shop for health insurance on a new web based portal. But small businesses may postpone using the portal until it is time to renew or change plans that will commence in calendar year 2015. Businesses with 51 to 100 employees will also be eligible to use the exchange for coverage beginning in 2016, according to federal law. Read more here …


DC health insurance board moves to phase in exchange mandate

Posted by Ben Fischer, Washington Business Journal - March 13, 2013

“I firmly believe one big marketplace will result in competition we don’t currently have, and it will also help with premium rates significantly over time,” said the board’s executive director,

A board appointed by DC Mayor Vincent Gray to overhaul the city’s health insurance market is standing by its plan to force small businesses to use a new benefits-buying website but has offered to phase in the mandate until 2015 for most companies.

The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a “transition” to a single, government-run marketplace for companies with 50 employees or less. Read more here …


Small-business health exchange mandate will go to DC Council

Posted by Mike Debonis, Washington Post – March 13, 2013

A District board is moving full steam ahead with a controversial plan to require small businesses in the city to purchase their employee health insurance through a government exchange.

The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to move forward with the small business exchange mandate. The board accepted a recommendation that small businesses currently carrying employee insurance would not have to use the exchange until 2015. But individuals, new small businesses and currently uninsured businesses would have to use the exchange starting Jan. 1. Read more here …


Health insurance exchanges: Be ready to be overwhelmed

Posted by Maggie Fox, Senior Writer, NBC News - March 13, 2013 

Twenty-four states now have been approved to set up their own health insurance exchanges, just seven months before people can start to enroll. That leaves the federal government to run 26 exchanges according to its own rules. No one’s quite sure yet what they will look like, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of them, at least, will provide an overwhelming range of choices for millions of people who may never have had to choose health insurance before.

Here are four things people can expect from the new exchanges: Read more here ...