By signing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on Tuesday, August 16, President Biden made history by continuing a 12-year trend to reduce the number of nonelderly Americans without health insurance.
The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance hit an all-time low of 8% in the first quarter of this year, reflecting an increase of 5.2 million people who gained coverage since 2020, according to a report by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released on Tuesday.
Using data from the National Health Interview Survey and the American Community Survey, the report from the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Education (ASPE) shows the effect of better subsidies for health insurance that consumers buy on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, increased federal efforts to encourage the uninsured to enroll, the continuous enrollment provisions in the federal-and-state Medicaid program and recent decisions in several states to increase enrollment in Medicaid, HHS said in a press release.
Since 2019, seven states have expanded enrollment in the federal-and-state funded Medicaid program, according to Louise Norris at HealthInsurance.org. Those states are: Virginia and Maine in 2019; Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska in 2020; and Oklahoma and Missouri last year, she wrote.
The HHS announcement is significant for three reasons. First, the all-time low 8% rate means that about 26.4 million people lack health insurance, down from 48 million in 2010, according to an ASPE report last year. Second, the report includes a table showing changes in the uninsured rates in each state for low-income adults ages 18 to 64 from 2018 to 2020. In 18 states (15 of which expanded Medicaid), the uninsured rates for this population dropped in those years.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Congress last month, will be sending about $100 billion into the U.S. public health system — money which is badly needed. But it isn’t enough for the long-term to prepare for the next pandemic.
The pandemic laid bare what had long been known — the nation’s federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public health agencies have been underfunded for decades. When SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began spreading, public health departments were so understaffed and working with such antiquated information systems that they could not respond to the fast-spreading pathogen quickly. Continue reading
The ones that keep getting delayed, suspended, postponed – or put into effect and then halted again?
The big end-of-year spending and tax bill Congress plans to approve this week will eliminate three big taxes – the health insurance tax, the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices, and the so-called Cadillac tax on certain high-value employer plans. They were to have provided billions to cover the cost of coverage expansion. (An extra 0.9 percent Medicare tax on income above a certain threshold is still in effect.) Continue reading
Congress returns from its summer recess with a full agenda. It’s probably not high on its to-do list, but many advocates of older Americans hope it will address several pieces of legislation introduced this year that could help many seniors better afford and access dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
These are items that traditional Medicare doesn’t pay for but would make a world of difference in the health and well-being of older adults. Continue reading