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Cafero Questions Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment

by Christine Stuart | Apr 4, 2014 12:09pm
(14) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, State Capitol, Transparency

Josalee Thrift file photo

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero

The March 31 deadline for enrolling in Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has come and gone, but not everyone believes it was a success.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said the state fell short of its enrollment goals.

“Behind all the hype surrounding the last minute surge in enrollments are the facts. Connecticut fell short of its stated goals of 100,000 people signing up for private health plans,” Cafero said.

Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, enrolled more than 197,878 individuals, but only 76,597 were enrolled with one of the three private insurance carriers. There were more than 121,281 enrolled in government-funded Medicaid, which was expanded to individuals who qualified from 55 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who co-chairs the Access Health CT board, said the goal was to enroll 100,000 in both Medicaid and private insurance plans by the March 31 deadline.

“Representative Cafero is wrong,” she said. “Connecticut is well-recognized as a national leader in effectively implementing the Affordable Care Act, exceeding enrollment targets set by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office by 136 percent and exceeding our own goals by 98 percent. This is success by any definition.”

CTNJ file photo

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman

But Cafero said the goal of Access Health CT was to enroll 100,000 with private insurance carriers and they fell short when only 76,597 individuals signed up.

Cafero cited a 2012 report from healthcare consultant Mercer, which estimated that 90,000 of the 304,000 uninsured in 2009, would appear to meet the income eligibility for Medicaid expansion. It also estimated that 150,000 currently uninsured individuals would qualify for subsidized coverage.

Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan has consistently said he hoped to enroll more than 100,000 individuals, but has never qualified the answer with a breakdown of how many of those would be in Medicaid and how many would be in private insurance plans.

For a period of time, Connecticut had been bucking the trend in other states because the number of those purchasing plans with private carriers was higher than Medicaid enrollment. However, the numbers flipped in February when Medicaid enrollment surpassed the private carriers for the first time since enrollment had opened Oct. 1.

As of March 1, a Kaiser Health Foundation report found that of the 57,000 individuals enrolled in private insurance plans on Connecticut’s exchange, about 73 percent of them qualified for subsidies. The average annual subsidy was $4,110, which means the federal government will be paying about $172 million to the state of Connecticut to help cover the monthly premiums of those individuals. Those numbers will be much higher once the rest of March’s enrollment is calculated.

“What we really need to know, and have not been able to find out, is how many new enrollees lost their coverage and were forced to go onto the exchange after they had been repeatedly told they could keep their coverage and their doctors,’’ Cafero said. “Connecticut’s website for enrolling people may have worked better than the disastrous federal program, but this still represents a massive expansion of welfare that taxpayers will have to foot.’’

Cafero mentions that Republicans tried to get their colleagues to agree to monthly reports about how many uninsured individuals received coverage through the exchange, but the legislation died last month in committee.

Counihan told the committee during the public hearing that the reporting requirements posed additional labor and costs on the quasi-public agency that would exceed $500,000.

However, Counihan said recently that they would be working with the Kaiser Health Foundation to estimate the number of previously uninsured individuals and share the information with lawmakers some time this summer.

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(14) Comments

posted by: Lawrence | April 4, 2014  3:34pm

Yes, 100,000 more CT citizens having access to affordable health care is a bad thing—only in the minds of right-wing 1% Republicans who are beholden to the insurance lobby.

Good Lord.

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 4, 2014  4:29pm

What will it take for Republicans to stop lying about Obamacare?  Why are they so opposed to providing healthcare to poor people?

AccessHealthCT enrolled twice as many people as expected.  This is a huge win!

Cafero is using a two year old consultant projection and claiming this was AccessHealthCT policy.  Nonsense!

posted by: nomore | April 4, 2014  8:14pm

@Lawrence, take a closer look here in the LOB.  Tell us who’s leadership PACs get the larger slice of the moola pie from the insurance lobbyist?  Who’s ad books are filled with their ads?  Don’t know?  The Democrat legislative majority of course.  Why? Because despite their their rhetoric years ago, they reimplemented ad books and larger donations after the Malloy fundraising machine came cashing in.

As for the 1%ers.  I’m sure they were in Chicago this week for the DNC’s $10K a head meet & greet with Obama.  Or if they couldn’t make Chicago, maybe they went to Lincoln Park and shelled out $32K to press some flesh with the president.  But if Chicago is too far, they’ll probably be back here in CT at Harvey Weinstein’s shelling out that same amount. 

Please Lawrence, if you have any pull, don’t have the state close Sherwood Isle State Park again for it.  My family enjoys spending summer days there.

posted by: art vandelay | April 4, 2014  8:18pm

art vandelay

I agree with Lawrence & LongJohn47. Everyone in this country should have access to “affordable” health care.  Nobody should have to declare bankruptcy if they need a major operation.  What I oppose is the government taking total control of it.  I can’t think of one thing government has control of that works. NOT ONE!

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 5, 2014  10:12am

The subscribers to AccessHealthCT were forced to join in order to avoid a penalty. They literally had a gun pointed at their heads.
Obamaism and Malloyism at its best.

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 5, 2014  11:26am

Stan—the “gun to their heads” comes straight from Romneycare in Massachusetts, and was originally dreamed up by the Heritage Foundation when they were opposing President Clinton’s health care plan.  It certainly has nothing to do with Malloy.

BTW, do you have car insurance?  Did you pay your property taxes?  Do you stop at stop signs?  Did you educate your kids, either in public school, private school, or teach them at home?

There are lots of things the government forces us to do which you might not like.  Buying health insurance is just one more.

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 5, 2014  11:38am

nomore—I agree that the revised CT campaign finance laws have allowed more fundraising, and I opposed them.

But to to be fair, Foley spent $12 million of his own money against Malloy last time, who was limited by law to $6 million, and there’s no guarantee that he won’t do it again. 

There’s also the distinct possibility that we’ll see Koch brothers money this time, and maybe Super PAC money from Karl Rove.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is gutting the regulations and making it easier for the super rich to buy elections.  CT should be proud of its public financing.  The rest of the system sucks.

posted by: Lawrence | April 5, 2014  9:36pm

nomore, as long as the right-wingers have stacked the u.s. supreme court for life in favor of republicans and big business, CT democrats can raise all the money they want, imho. It’s a matter of sheer survival.

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 6, 2014  10:59am

LongJohn47: Are you saying that Barack Obama defeated the Mitt Romney at the presidential polls yet adopted his Massachusetts Health Care plan for ObamaCare?  You are losing it when you defend an effort “because it comes from a fearless but hapless leader.”  Malloy remains as a rubber stamp for ObamaCare Yet you say—with tongue in cheek—it has nothing to do with Malloy.  You also appear to “speak with a forked tongue Johnny.”

posted by: Commuter | April 6, 2014  12:53pm

Despite his imminent retirement, Larry is just following through in his role as minority (as in loyal opposition) leader. It’s what professionals do.

Everybody paying attention knows that what LongJohn47 points out is true; this is a market-based approach to universal coverage - that, when first proposed, was a right-wing policy from the blue-chip conservative think tank that brought us Ronald Reagan’s policy playbook - to counter the single-payer (meaning the federal government as payer) approach espoused by the left and the base of the Democratic Party.

It’s working out pretty well so far. True liberals (that is, those believing in well-designed market mechanisms as the best way to allocate resources, set prices, and regulate supply and demand) understand that the historic principle behind pooled risk (insurance) requires broad (ideally universal) participation, should fully support this approach.

Obamacare addresses a major failing in insurance market mechanisms brought on by the advent of big data, which transformed (some would say inverted, some would say perverted) the business model of insurers. As such, it is arguably a model of government’s appropriate role as ensurer (and, when necessary, maker) of properly functioning markets.

posted by: iRAN | April 7, 2014  11:07am

Cafero is 100% correct.  Most of the Medicaid (welfare) enrollees were simply re-enrolling, not new enrollees.  And Counihan admits that they have no way of knowing if the private carrier enrollees are new to health insurance or even if they’ve paid their premiums.  The so called “affordable” care act is not affordable.

posted by: Grannie48 | April 7, 2014  4:17pm

So I have heard that those who qualified for extended medicaid will be funded by the Fed for two or three years.  After that it will be the states responsibility for funding.  Does anyone have cost figures and any idea how the state will pay for this increased medicaid expense.  The Taxpayers of this state are already over taxed.

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 8, 2014  5:13pm

Grannie—the Feds pick up 100% of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, then “no less than” 90% after that.

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Expanding Medicaid is thus a very favorable financial deal for states.” http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3801

posted by: LongJohn47 | April 8, 2014  5:21pm

Iran—Cafero is 100% wrong.  These are new enrollees.  Medicaid re-enrollees could not go through AccessHealthCT. 

I went with someone on Medicaid to an AccessHealthCT event in November to make sure he was covered under the new system, and they couldn’t process him.  He has to deal with DSS directly.