in-the-Game Policy Updates from HHS
On the final day of open enrollment, HHS released two interesting pieces of ACA guidance. We wanted to make sure that you were aware of these right-before-the-buzzer developments in case enthusiasm in the waning hours of open enrollment overtook you -- and you accidentally overlooked this news. Consider this your instant policy replay!
The first piece of guidance from HHS explains how the marketplaces may address premium tax credit eligibility for survivors of domestic violence who are still married. In short, marketplaces may determine eligibility for such persons who intend to file as married filing separately in accordance with recent Treasury guidance – or, as the federal marketplace will do, the marketplaces may allow such individuals to indicate that they are unmarried for purposes of premium tax credit eligibility. The HHS guidance also confirms the 60-day special enrollment period for survivors of domestic violence from April 1st to May 30th; while this only applies to the 36 states served by the federal marketplace, state marketplaces will likely follow suit. Note that earlier guidance from HHS indicated that the special enrollment period for survivors of domestic violence would last through May 31st; it is unclear why the later guidance truncates the special enrollment period by one day. Even so, we welcome this policy news for survivors of domestic violence!
The second piece of guidance from HHS clarifies that individuals who enroll in Medicaid and CHIP during the open enrollment period will not face the tax penalty for lacking minimum essential coverage for the early months of 2014. HHS had previously attempted to fix the “Valentine’s Day” problem (in which people signing up during the open enrollment period could still be subject to tax penalties). As Jackson Hewitt pointed out in November and February, the initial HHS “fix” did not address populations who were eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, leading to some perverse outcomes. The newest guidance from HHS essentially adopts Jackson Hewitt’s recommendations to ensure that persons eligible for Medicaid and CHIP receive the same consideration (and eligibility for exemptions) as those who are eligible for the premium tax credits. Go team!
Which means that we were 2-2 on Monday, which is not a bad way to end open enrollment. We hope you celebrated as much as we have!
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