Cafero Questions Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment
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.”
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.