With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) ninth open enrollment period (OEP) set to launch in less than a month, the ACA Marketplaces are seeing record enrollment numbers with more generous subsidies, new carrier competition, and a relatively stable rating environment. At the same time, there is uncertainty with the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and medical costs trending upward as the economy recovers, albeit at an uneven pace. These trends have made for a challenging rate review process in the 47 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) that conduct their own ACA rate reviews of carrier-proposed rates using federal review standards. State announcements of 2022 rates have trickled out at a slower pace than in prior years, and it is likely that many states will not publish their approved rates until the beginning of open enrollment. As always, state rate results vary widely and, even within states, there often are substantial variations among carriers and across different regions in geographically diverse states. With these caveats, this expert perspective highlights some observations about the factors that are impacting rate changes this year and the kind of variations that exist among states.
Examining the Public Charge Proposed Rule
On October 1, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health and Value Strategies program hosted a webinar, facilitated by experts at Manatt Health on the long-anticipated proposed rule released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on September 22. The proposed rule seeks to change how DHS determines whether immigrants—when seeking admission to the U.S., an extension of their stay, or status change to become a legal permanent resident—are “likely at any time to become a public charge” (i.e., dependent on the government for financial support). Consequentially, being determined a “public charge” may put immigration status at risk. The webinar reviewed the proposed rule and its potential impacts on consumers, states and providers. Specifically, we highlighted the key ways the proposed rule departs from current guidance, with a particular focus on the implications for Medicaid and other health-related public benefits, and how the proposed rule may impact consumers’ access to certain benefits.
Given the large number of questions received during the webinar, Manatt Health produced a Public Charge Proposed Rule: Frequently Asked Questions that condenses the questions into key categories of interest. We hope you find this resource informative and if the proposed rule is finalized, it will be important to revisit these and other questions to assess the impact of the rule on immigrants as well as states, localities, and health care providers.