The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

December updates: Open Enrollment, Texas messing with us & more

1. DEADLINES For 2019 Non-Group Coverage. People currently enrolled through the Connector who want to change plans in 2019 as well as those seeking to obtain coverage for 2019 have until DEC 23 for Jan 1 coverage or until JAN 23 for Feb 1 coverage.  Note: this is later than the deadline in most other states & reported in national news.  And while there will be no federal tax penalty for being uninsured in 2019, there is still an individual mandate in Massachusetts enforced through a state tax penalty. And speaking of no tax penalty in 2019,  the recent Texas court ruling on the ACA will not affect open enrollment for 2019.  The following is part of the Connector's statement distributed on Dec 18, 2018 about that:
The decision made by a federal judge in Texas regarding the Affordable Care Act does not have any immediate impact on the Health Connector or our Open Enrollment. We remain fully open for business and encourage members to stay covered, and for people without insurance to get covered before the Dec. 23 deadline for January 2019 coverage. As detailed in the White House statement Friday night, the Affordable Care Act remains the law, and we will continue to make health care accessible and affordable to everyone in Massachusetts.  
2. MA is one of 18 states defending the ACA in the TX litigation. Read more about the current procedural posture of the  ruling in Texas v. Azar in the Health Affairs blog post here:
3. Other Connector Updates: Medicare Part B penalty relief for certain Connector members  and extended premium relief for some Merrimack Valley Connector enrollees
a. Medicare Part B Penalties. Some Medicare eligible individuals who enrolled in private insurance through the Connector and delayed enrollment in Medicare Part B were faced with the double whammy of loss of premium tax credits for their private coverage and penalties for enrolling late in Medicare Part B. Acknowledging how much confusion there is between the interaction of subsidized insurance and Medicare, Medicare is giving Medicare recipients an opportunity to avoid the Part B late payment penalties if they were affected by this situation between July 2013 and Sept 2019.  More information is available here and through local SHINE counselors.
b. Premium relief. The Connector is also extending premium relief into March 2019 for enrollees in Andover, Lawrence and North Andover who were affected by the gas explosions. 
4. Well over 200,000 comments submitted on proposed public charge rule by Dec 10 comment deadline
Thousands of Massachusetts residents, organizations, and state and local agencies and elected officials weighed in with comments opposing the proposed expansion of the public charge rule.  Meanwhile, nothing in the US has changed for individuals applying for adjustment of status  or seeking extension of non-immigrant statuses.The Dept. of Homeland Security has many comments to review raisiing multiple serious objections to the proposed rule before it issues a final rule. 
We hope to have more information for you soon about tracking and combatting the fear factor in immigrant communities while we await further developments.

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