Good morning ... With only about 48 hours left in open enrollment, the deadline-driven sign-up surge is well under way — but still unlikely to catch up to last year.
Sixteen states are in danger of running out of federal funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program by the end of January if Congress doesn't renew funding — including California, Texas and Florida. In several of those states, very little CHIP coverage is tied to the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion — and those are the kids in the greatest danger of losing their coverage.
Why it matters: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is tapping into old CHIP funding to help keep states afloat. But it's already about a third of the way through that money, and it'll start to fly out the door even faster as more states — and bigger states — start to need emergency funds.
Go deeper: Check out the interactive graphic.
Insurance companies have stepped up their advertising for plans sold through HealthCare.gov, and might even be on track to outpace all of the advertising — including government-sponsored promotions — from last year's enrollment period. That's according to new research from Wesleyan University that tracks TV advertising for ACA coverage.
Yes, but: President Trump also slashed the budget for a different type of outreach — grants that helped community groups and other certified “navigators" reach out personally to the uninsured and assist them in comparing their options.
People who froze their credit to try to protect themselves after the massive Equifax hack might have a hard time signing up for health insurance, Kaiser Health News reports.
How it works: HealthCare.gov verifies consumers’ identities using information tied to their credit histories. And people who have blocked access to their credit histories — as many people did in the wake of the Equifax breach — are in some cases finding that HealthCare.gov can’t complete its normal process, and therefore they can’t finish enrolling.
The catch: There are workarounds — you can upload or mail in a set of documents to help establish your identity. A call to another credit agency, Experian, can often clear things up. Consumers can also un-freeze their credit, although the government says it’s not recommending that.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services might hire a contractor to track whether the companies that sell Medicare prescription drug plans are doing a good enough job, my colleague Bob Herman reports.
Why now: Several Medicare drug plans have been reprimanded for some serious violations, and CMS wants to figure out what's going on.
Threat level: There's no guarantee CMS will hire a contractor, but the agency is testing the waters to see if an outside company can help determine "whether the Part D formulary and benefit offerings are being administered as approved" by law, according to a document outlining potential responsibilities.
House and Senate Republicans have a deal to reconcile their tax bills.
Details of the reconciled tax bill, per the Wall Street Journal:
A new spending bill, tied to Sen. Susan Collins' health care demands, is still in flux.
Here's what Molina had to say in a phone call with Bob:
What we're watching today: CHIP and the tax bill.
Anything else going on? Let me know about it: firstname.lastname@example.org.