Exchange Enrollment Exceeds Expectations

Sign-ups for the ObamaCare exchanges have been unexpectedly high since the opening of the enrollment period began on November 1. Nearly 2.3 million people have signed up for coverage according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), despite the uncertainty caused by rising premiums, insurer exits, and efforts by the Administration and GOP Congress to repeal or roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While enrollment has increased significantly on a daily basis compared to previous years, it is impossible to generalize what this will ultimately mean for the individual market come close of the enrollment period on December 15. While 12.2 million people signed up for coverage last year, the total length of the open enrollment period was cut in half this year. A significant surge around the December 15 deadline would be necessary to maintain a steady enrollment rate with previous years.

In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its latest statistics on the national uninsured rate. Approximately nine percent of all Americans were uninsured during the first half of 2017. While this is not significantly different from 2016 data, the latest CDC report shows that states operating their own exchanges have an uninsured rate (8.3 percent) half of the uninsured rate of states that rely on HealthCare.gov (16.1 percent). HealthCare. gov states also saw their first increase in the uninsured rate since 2014. Additionally, states that expanded their Medicaid programs experienced a significantly lower uninsured rate of 8.8 percent compared to the 19 percent rate in states that did not expand their program.

CDC to Undergo Reorganization

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Brenda Fitzgerald announced that the agency will undergo a reorganization to improve its attention to science, surveillance, and service. The CDC currently has an administrative review underway to ultimately refocus its work around communities of practice and to increase the agency’s synergy and effectiveness.

E&C to Hold Hearing on Cures Implementation

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has announced that it will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the progress of the 21st Century Cures Act implementation. The hearing will take place on the one year anniversary of the House’s passage of the bill. Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scott Gottlieb and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins are scheduled to testify.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform field hearing on Combating the Opioid Crisis; 12:30 p.m., Chevy Chase Auditorium – 1st Floor, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1800 Orleans Street Baltimore, MD 21287; November 28

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the Nomination of Alex Azar to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services; 9:30 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 29

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing “The Front Lines of the Opioid Crisis: Perspectives from States, Communities, and Providers;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 30

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