Shopping for Insurance? Don’t Expect Much Help Navigating Plans

October 27, 2018, The New York Times, Robert Pear- When the annual open enrollment period begins in a few days, consumers across the country will have more choices under the Affordable Care Act, but fewer sources of unbiased advice and assistance to guide them through the labyrinth of health insurance. The Trump administration has opened the door to aggressive marketing of short-term insurance plans, which are not required to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Insurers are entering or returning to the Affordable Care Act marketplace, expanding their service areas and offering new products. But the budget for the insurance counselors known as navigators has been cut more than 80 percent, and in nearly one-third of the 2,400 counties served by, no navigators have been funded by the federal government.

Rural hospitals at risk, pose real challenges for Mississippi leaders

October 26, 2018, Mississippi Today, Aallyah Wright- As a bankruptcy court in Tennessee weighs options for a health system operator wanting to cut ties with the local county hospital, about 23,000 people here anxiously await word on whether one of the anchors of the community -  Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center - will close its doors or hand the keys over to another operator. The uncertain future of rural hospitals is a drama that’s playing out in other communities around the country and across the state. Other rural hospitals in Mississippi - most notably in Amory and Batesville - are also in danger of closure if no new operator picks them up. Although Clarksdale leaders are apprehensive, they also remain certain that its medical centers will remain open and say they are taking the necessary steps to bring someone in to take over for current company holding the lease, Curae Health Inc.

Health, income, human rights: Many reasons to vote Nov. 6

October 26, 2018,The Clarion Ledger, Lynn Evans- If the chance to have such a big impact on Mississippi’s U.S. congressional delegation is not enough to get you to the polls, there are plenty of other reasons to go vote. One of the biggest issues for voters is health care and their access to it. The Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with preexisting conditions are being slowly eroded by Congress and the White House. Many Americans are already concerned they cannot get health insurance they can afford that will cover what they need. A recent Harvard survey found more than half of Americans without health insurance who suffer a serious health event, like a car accident or a heart attack, had used up all of their savings and were now hounded by collection agencies. And a third found they were now unable to buy health insurance because of their recent health history.

Trump officials sticking with reduced ObamaCare outreach budget

October 26, 2018, The Hill, Nathaniel Weixel- The Trump administration will spend $10 million on ObamaCare outreach and marketing ahead of the upcoming open enrollment period, the same amount as last year. The $10 million for ad funding for 2019 is a 90 percent cut compared to the $100 million that the Obama administration devoted for 2017 coverage year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will use “similar marketing tactics from last year” to best target consumers with much less money than Obama allocated.

States Explore Paths To Pay Their Share For Medicaid Expansion - Using Political GPS

October 24, 2018, KHN, Shefali- Medicaid advocates haven’t begun planning ballot initiatives for 2020 yet, but there are six states that haven’t expanded eligibility where voters could take on the question directly: Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. As political analysts have long argued, the issue isn’t entirely about funding. States can surmount that obstacle if there is political will. “If you’re talking about why did certain states not do the expansion, the fear of the cost - while a real issue - has never been within the top three of the actual reasons why they actually didn’t do it,” Salo said. “It all has been political and ideological.”

Health insurance sign-ups begin: Some assistance recommended

October 24, 2018, Associated Press, Tom Murphy- It’s time to think health insurance. There’s a sentence many Americans will dread reading. Picking the right plan every year involves sifting through deductibles, provider networks and other arcane terms that can quickly scramble the brain. Don’t worry, though, help is available. It just may be harder to find this fall. Here are some points to consider as you decide what coverage you need for 2019. The sign-up period for next year’s individual health insurance coverage runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 in most states. Don’t delay.