This afternoon Governor Patrick signed the supplemental budget bill that had been held up for several weeks.
The law includes several outside sections that alter the implementation dates of this summer’s Chapter 288 – the small business cost containment bill. The biggest change for consumers is in the open enrollment provisions. As we discussed here, this provision changes the rules for our insurance market. Under chapter 288, individuals can no longer purchase coverage continuously, but are restricted to two open enrollment periods for 2011: January 1-February 15 and July 1-August 15.
The supplemental budget moves the implementation date of this provision from October 1st to December 1st, which means that all individuals should again be able to enroll in coverage through the Connector and the carriers. This coverage can begin as early as November 1st if individuals pay their premiums by October 22nd. Anyone who has submitted an application since the beginning of October will have his or her application processed right away. If you have any questions about the open enrollment period, please contact DOI.
With the breathing room provided by this delay, we strongly urge the Connector, DOI and carriers to embark on an educational campaign to let people know about the closing of the individual insurance market open door on December 1, the coming of fixed open enrollment periods, and the availability of DPH’s waiver process for people inadvertently caught in a bind due to closed enrollment.
The supplemental budget also includes funding to fill in some of the Medicaid shortfall for FY11, and adds $93,000 for the academic detailing program. The program counteracts the aggressive marketing to physicians of high-cost drugs by sharing objective information learned through comparative effectiveness research on drugs.