U.S. health insurer Anthem announced Friday that it now plans to sell Affordable Care Act exchange plans in 68 cities and counties in Virginia for the 2018 coverage year, including the remaining U.S. counties that were at risk of having no exchange insurer.
The decision means once again no U.S. counties are currently expected to have "bare" exchange markets, though insurers have until Sept. 27 to change which exchanges they will participate in. The 2018 open enrollment period is set to begin Nov. 1.
Anthem to re-enter Virginia exchange
Sixty-three of Virginia's 95 counties had been at risk of having no exchange insurer for the upcoming enrollment period after Optima Health earlier this month said it would exit certain Virginia exchange markets.
Anthem previously had signaled it would leave the Virginia exchange for the 2018 coverage year, but company officials changed their minds in light of Optima's exits. Anthem officials in a statement said, "Since learning that 63 counties and cities in Virginia would not have access to individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in the state."
In a statement, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Anthem's "decision to make sure every locality in Virginia is served is a recognition that all Virginians need access to health care and a direct reflection of the intense effort by our administration, our senators ... and our entire congressional delegation to convince Anthem of the value of continuing to offer plans in these localities" (Reuters, 9/15; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 9/15; Hellman, The Hill, 9/15; Simpson, Virginian-Pilot, 9/16).
Where do the states stand on Medicaid expansion?
The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt of the law's Medicaid expansion, leaving each state's decision to participate in the hands of the nation's governors and state leaders.
The Daily Briefing editorial teams have been tracking where each state stands on the issue since the ruling, combing through lawmakers' statements, press releases, and media coverage. In this latest iteration of our Medicaid map, we've determined each state's position based on legislative or executive actions to expand coverage to low-income residents using ACA funding.