Friday Five: With two weeks left in open enrollment, participants find costs for many ACA plans are lower than 2018

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November 30, 2018
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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about Affordable Care Act premium costs, North Carolina’s Medicaid waiver approval, potential Medicaid expansion in 2020, and administrative changes to the SNAP program.

1. Many who buy ACA health plans for 2019 find lower prices and more choice 

Premiums for the benchmark “silver” plan within the Affordable Care Act marketplace are dropping in 19 states, according to NPR. In addition, half the counties in states participating in the marketplace will see an average 10% cost decrease in the cheapest available plan. Many insurers overshot their cost estimate due to legislative uncertainty in 2018 and are lowering costs and expanding into new markets for 2019.

2. DHHS updates Medicaid waiver status; state to serve as national pilot

North Carolina has received approval for key elements of its Medicaid waiver request. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the waiver will allow the state to combine physical health, mental health, and pharmacy benefits into a flat-fee reimbursement, while also piloting evidence-based strategies in priority areas that affect health.

3. More red state Medicaid ballot measures may emerge in 2020  

The success of Medicaid expansion in several states following midterm elections this year may prompt more states to introduce ballot measures in 2020, according to this blog published in Forbes. Fourteen states have yet to expand Medicaid, representing another 4 million potential enrollees.

4. Farm bill presents opportunity to improve SNAP program

An opinion piece published by The Hill, advocates for Congress to support a proposed change that would allow states to use contracted services to support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They argue the provision has broad support, would ease administrative burdens, and is in line with similar programs, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

5. Grading the 2018 technology and government predictions

NextGov revisits its 2018 predictions to see which came to pass. Predictions centered around blockchain improving cybersecurity, artificial intelligence going mainstream, and drones technology becoming more commonplace.