TRP’s Shea McCarthy Discusses Possible Next Steps Following the End of the 2018 ACA Enrollment Period

In an Inside Health Policy article published Monday, Thorn Run Partner’s Senior Vice President Shea McCarthy discusses possible next steps for CMS and the Trump administration following the end of the 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment period. The article notes that industry lobbysts expect CMS to take some sort of action following the end of the enrollment period, possibly shutting out "in-line" enrollees who are waiting as a result of expected healthcare.gov slowdowns.  McCarthy wisely pointed out that the end of the open enrollment period will represent "a key inflection point" for the Trump administration regarding their approach to ACA implementation moving forward. “It stands to reason that regulators will use the end of open enrollment as another opportunity to chip away at the ACA marketplaces," said McCarthy.

The article in its entirety can be found below. 

CMS Expected To Eliminate Grace Periods For ‘In-Line’ Enrollees Shut Out by Healthcare.Gov

December 11, 2017

Stakeholders expect CMS to shut out potential enrollees attempting to register for a plan on healthcare.gov as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 15 and not afford them a grace period for sign-ups as the agency has done in years past — and the agency wouldn't deny that might be the case when asked about it by Inside Health Policy.

The 2018 enrollment period, which the Trump administration shortened by half compared to previous years, ends Friday (Dec. 15) and a large number of people are expected to sign up for plans as the deadline approaches and clog the healthcare.gov website. In years past, as enrollees flooded to the website in the final hours of enrollment, those who missed the deadline and were left “in line” due to slow web speeds were given a grace period to maintain coverage.

“I would not assume that there’d be an extension this year with the Dec. 15 deadline,” America’s Health Insurance Plans Executive Director of Exchange Operations Kelly Turek said during an AHIP Q&A on Monday (Dec. 11).

When asked about the elimination of the grace period, a CMS spokesperson told Inside Health Policy that “at this time, the deadline for people to shop and pick a plan for the upcoming year is December 15. We continue to encourage people to make plan selections by that deadline.” When asked to further clarify whether this means the agency will eliminate grace periods for in-line enrollees, CMS provided no further information.

Multiple industry lobbyists said they would not be surprised if CMS shut out “in-line” enrollees foiled by the expected slowdowns on healthcare.gov.

“The Trump administration is dead set on destroying this law. If you’re thinking the deadline is not a hard deadline I’m betting it’s going to be. The administration’s interests don’t necessarily align with those of the health care law,” a D.C. health care lobbyist noted when asked about the potential elimination of the enrollment grace periods.

In addition to shortening the enrollment period by half, this year the Trump administration has cut ACA outreach funding by 90 percent and has cut funding for navigator entities that assist people with enrollment by 41 percent. The president also has repeatedly urged Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And the GOP tax plan, which Congress is rushing to pass by the end of the year, would eliminate the health care law’s individual mandate.

“The end of open enrollment will represent another key inflection point for the Trump administration in their approach to ACA implementation,” Thorn Run Partners Vice President Shea McCarthy said. “It stands to reason that regulators will use the end of open enrollment as another opportunity to chip away at the ACA marketplaces.”