Coffee CAHC is a twice-weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful!
115th Congress, 1st session
128th Maine Legislature, adjourned
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
It’s still striking to me, sometimes, how powerful sense memories can trigger big emotional responses. This morning, for instance, I awoke to a sound that – having grown up in Maine – was immediately familiar to me: the crunchy scrape, scrape, scrape of cars being chipped free from their snowy blankets. And the big emotional response was also familiar: I groaned out loud and pulled the blanket up over my head.
Watching Congress flail around is becoming demoralizing.
The conference committee working on reconciling the House and Senate tax bills seems to have no interest whatsoever in Alexander-Murray or Collins-Nelson, the two bills that Senator Collins has said must be passed before she will support the tax bill.
Leadership is now also saying that CHIP reauthorization is unlikely to happen in this calendar year, even as states have begun the process to send notices to families that kids are about to lose coverage. Health centers seem tied up in that same limbo.
In a weird way, readers, I wish that this section was longer. I wish that the past few Coffee CAHCs had been longer. Because that would mean that something was happening, or moving, or being debated, in a way that allowed for analysis. But right now it just feels like everything in DC is spinning its wheels. That’s frustrating to folks like us who try and advocate for these programs; imagine the frustration of being the parent of a kid who relies on CHIP, or a rural Mainer who relies on the care they get at their community health center. It’s unbelievable.
In other “national” news, open enrollment ends this Friday. We’ll be watching closely to see how the final enrollment numbers shake out, which we should know in a few weeks. Our HelpLine team here at CAHC is all hands on deck this week, fielding calls and helping folks enroll.
As I mentioned, the Appropriations Committee is meeting in Augusta today to go over some info about next year’s budget. Included on their agenda is a discussion about Medicaid expansion. I’ll have more for you in Friday’s edition to unpack whatever happens in there today.
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A quirky wrinkle in the system: folks who have frozen their credit reports after data breaches may face difficulties in enrolling through the Marketplace, where identity verification depends on access to Experian credit files.
The American Academy of Actuaries weighed in with a letter to Congress, stating that Alexander-Murray will do nothing to mitigate the devastating impacts of repealing the individual mandate (which, yeah, we already knew, but still). (and h/t to Axios for flagging this one in their Vitals newsletter this morning.)
Until next time, friends, I remain,