More Mississippians sign up for Obamacare, bucking national trends

December 20, 2018, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris - Even though national enrollment numbers are down, Mississippi saw a significant increase in people signing up for health insurance through Based on preliminary figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, 88,000 Mississippians sought health insurance for 2019 through the federal exchange. “This is an increase of 12 percent over last year’s numbers,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney in a statement. “It is likely that consumers will continue to access individual coverage through the Exchange so long as tax subsidies remain available.” Nationally, about 8.5 million people signed up by the end of open enrollment ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline. That is down about 4 percent compared to 8.8 million who signed up last year. Mississippi currently has only one insurer - Magnolia Health - available on the exchange, but the company offers policies in all 82 counties. Even though there has been less funding for outreach, Mississippi Health Advocacy Program executive director Roy Mitchell thinks the word is getting out that the Obamacare is a good deal. “I think it was largely word of mouth…Mississippians are getting quality, affordable health insurance through the marketplace,” Mitchell said. “We see the stigma many tried to create around the marketplace is apparently gone.”

Health law’s fines are not the big stick everybody thought

December 20, 2018,The Washington Post, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press - There was one thing that supporters and detractors of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul agreed on for years: unpopular fines on Americans forgoing coverage were essential for the plan to work because they nudged healthy people to get insured, helping check premiums. Now it turns out that might not be so. Numbers released this week by the government show just a slight dip in the number of people enrolled in Affordable Care Act coverage next year through That’s the case even though the Republican-led Congress repealed fines for being uninsured effective Jan. 1. The drop - from 8.8 million to 8.5 million - was far less than experts forecast.

Slimantics: Medicaid expansion under any name is a ‘pretty good deal’

December 20, 2018, The Dispatch, Slim Smith - Earlier this month, the Lowndes County Board of supervisors authorized county engineer Bob Calvert to submit three road/bridge projects to the state for funding under the state’s new emergency roads/bridges fund. In order to make the projects appealing, Calvert suggested the county agree to a 10 percent match on any funds designated for the project. “Anytime you can get a deal where you pay only 10 percent of the cost, it’s a pretty good deal,” said board president Harry Sanders. Sanders is a Republican. So is two-term Governor Phil Bryant. The difference between the two is that Sanders knows a good deal when he sees one.

Cigarette tax hike again eyed for 2019 session

December 19, 2018, Mississippi, Anna Wolfe - Even though Mississippi’s Republican-led Legislature prides itself on keeping taxes low, momentum is building for one kind of tax increase. Nearly three-fourths of Mississippians support increasing the state’s tax on cigarettes, which is the 12th lowest in the nation, according to a survey by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm based in Washington, D.C. The firm surveyed 500 registered voters by phone across the state in late October. A similar poll yielded nearly identical results last year, but although a measure moving through the Legislature during the 2018 session garnered more behind-the-scenes support than in previous years, it ultimately died with little discussion.

Obama health law sign-ups beat forecast despite headwinds

December 19, 2018, Associated Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar - The Affordable Care Act has yet again beaten predictions of its downfall, as government figures released Wednesday showed unexpectedly solid sign-ups for health coverage next year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said nearly 8.5 million people had enrolled as of last Saturday’s deadline, with about a dozen states, including California and New York, still left to report. The preliminary number was down about 4 percent, when a much bigger loss had been expected. Different factors combined to make for an unpredictable sign-up season this year for former President Barack Obama’s health care law, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

Obamacare ruling could cut deeper than many Americans realize

December 19, 2018, Politico, Joanne Kenen and Miranda Ollstein - Millions of middle-class Americans who get health coverage through work have been getting Obamacare benefits for years - whether they know it or not. And millions of older Americans who rack up big drug costs under Medicare get more financial help through Obamacare - whether they know it or not.  Now a Texas federal judge who just invalidated the entire health care law has put them at risk - whether they know it or not.  The sweeping court ruling shows how hard it is to relitigate parts of Obamacare without harming measures that benefit virtually every American, including people who don’t even buy insurance from the Obamacare markets.