Although some states, running their own health care purchasing exchanges, have kept their open enrollment going, HHS shut down open enrollment on Friday, December 15 converting what had been a 12 week enrollment period down to 6 weeks.

For people living in the 39 states that rely on the federal site, reports were rampant of long telephone waits for people attempting to sign up.   Enrollments were consistently up over the previous year’s pace but the final numbers showed the impact of the Trump Administration’s small enrollment window.  The most recent figures reported indicate a continued pace over last year but because of the short sign-up enrollment numbers are expected to fall below the more than 10 million from last year.  Final data should be available in a few days.

Several states are extending their own exchange deadlines or it was longer then the federal December 15 deadline.  California’s surge included a 17 percent increase over the same period last year.  California is one of those states that still have open enrollment.  Other state deadlines are: California, New York, Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, – Massachusetts: Jan. 23, Washington: Jan. 15, Minnesota: Jan. 14, Colorado: Jan. 12, Rhode Island: Dec. 31 and for Connecticut and Maryland, December 22.

With the tax bill dealing a blow to the Affordable Care Act by doing away with the individual mandate, eyes are now on Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  One of the requirements for her vote was that if the tax bill includes a repeal of the mandate then Congress needs to enact two bills, her bill sponsored with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and the Alexander-Murray bill. The first bill provides some backup to coverage of high catastrophic costs for some insured individuals.  The Alexander-Murray bill continues the subsidies (CRS) for two more years.

Senator McConnell (R-KY) made the commitment to Senator Collins but Speaker Ryan has made clear that promise is not binding on him or the House of Representatives.  If no other Senator opposes the tax bill, Senator Collin’s vote may not be that significant.