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Data Note: Attempting to Measure Early Impact of the ACA through National Public Opinion Polls- A Note of Caution and What to Watch For

After the October start of open enrollment, under the Affordable Care Act, many journalists, policymakers, and the public at large are eager for early data indicating how the law is working from the perspective of potential enrollees. In particular, given the problems with Healthcare.Gov and some of the state exchange websites, many people want quantitative data about people’s experiences attempting to purchase or enroll in some sort of health insurance coverage using these mechanisms.
This Data Note raises a note of caution about the possible pitfalls of using standard national public opinion polls to make judgments about Americans’ early experiences with health plan enrollment under the ACA.

Getting into Gear for 2014: Shifting New Medicaid Eligibility and Enrollment Policies into Drive

On January 1, 2014, many key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will start to go into effect, including the expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults and the launch of new Medicaid eligibility and enrollment processes, which are designed to move toward a coordinated enrollment system across health coverage programs, including Medicaid, CHIP, and the new Health Insurance Marketplaces. Over the past year, states have made steady and significant progress preparing for these changes, but readiness varies considerably as 2014 nears, and implementation work and ongoing process improvements will continue into the foreseeable future. To provide greater insight into the status of implementation, this report provides an overview of key state Medicaid eligibility and enrollment policies slated to go into effect based on data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Fast Track to Coverage: Facilitating Enrollment of Eligible People into the Medicaid Expansion

To help states launch the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion and efficiently enroll eligible individuals, CMS has offered states a series of facilitated enrollment options. These options include strategies, referred to as “fast track enrollment” in this issue brief, that allow states to enroll eligible individuals into coverage using data already available from their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs (SNAP) and/or their Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs for children. This issue brief provides an overview of the new “fast track” enrollment options, including how they have been implemented, their impacts, and key lessons learned. It is based on a series of interviews with state officials in Arkansas, Illinois, Oregon and West Virginia conducted by Manatt Health Solutions and the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured in October 2013.

Obamacare Vital Signs Not Just Numbers

In his latest column, Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman discusses the focus on first year metrics, especially enrollment projections, in the ACA debate.

To Switch or Not to Switch: Are Medicare Beneficiaries Switching Drug Plans To Save Money?

This analysis finds that relatively few Medicare beneficiaries have switched Part D prescription drug plans voluntarily during the annual open enrollment period — even though those who do switch often lower their out-of-pocket costs as a result of changing plans. The vast majority (87% on average between 2006 and 2010) stayed in the same Part D plan, even though the plans can change premiums, deductibles, cost-sharing amounts, and their list of covered drugs each year. Higher rates of plan switching were observed in PDPs that increased premiums, increased deductibles, or dropped coverage of brand-name drugs in the coverage gap.

Medicaid in a Historic Time of Transformation: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014

The report findings are drawn from the 13th annual budget survey of Medicaid officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report highlights trends in Medicaid spending, enrollment and policy initiatives for FY 2013 and FY 2014 with an intense focus on eligibility and enrollment changes tied to the implementation of the ACA as well as payment and delivery system changes. The report provides detailed appendices with state-by-state information and a more in-depth look at four case study states: Arizona, Florida, Kentucky and Washington.

No Quick Verdict on Obamacare

This column originally appeared in Politico on September 30. Dr. Altman’s future Politico columns will be posted on kff.org one day after publication. October 1, the focus of great attention in the Obamacare wars, is finally here. Today is the day open enrollment begins for the new health insurance marketplaces,…