April 8 Covid-19 Update

April 8, 2020

BAKER ADMINISTRATION UPDATES

Governor Baker filed legislation on civil liability for health care workers and facilities:

Governor Baker filed  legislation to protect health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians, as well as certain health care facilities from liability and suit when the care that they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The bill would also provide protections for the health workers staffing the unique Field Medical Stations being stood up at the DCU Center, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and other locations.

 Governor Baker also issued a directive that will maximize protections for health care workers under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”) during the state of emergency. The directive will ensure that health care workers and facilities that distribute and administer testing, drugs and medical devices for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 are protected from suit and liability to the maximum extent possible under the PREP Act.

Liability Protection Legislation Filing Letter: https://www.mass.gov/doc/april-8-2020-liability-legislation-filing-letter

Liability Protection Legislation: https://www.mass.gov/doc/april-8-2020-liability-legislation

Governor’s PREP Act Directive: https://www.mass.gov/doc/april-8-2020-prep-act-directive

Health Connector updates and special enrollment period:

In response to the unprecedented impacts of the coronavirus, the Health Connector continues to serve the residents of the Commonwealth, whether they are existing members or enrolling with the Health Connector for the first time. For your reference, please find important messages and updates to Health Connector policies in response to COVID19 crisis below, and please visit www.mahealthconnector.org/covid-19 for more information.

Loss of employment/Health

As individuals lose employment, they may also lose access to their employer sponsored health insurance. As incomes are reduced, individuals may benefit from the opportunity to apply for subsidies or compare plans side by side and select a health plan that suits their needs best. Additional health insurance resources for constituents who have recently lost their employment can be found at www.mahealthconnector.org/wp-content/uploads/health-coverageafter-a-job-loss-eng.pdf and in Spanish at www.mahealthconnector.org/wp-content/uploads/health-coverage-aftera-job-loss-esp.pdf 

Please keep in mind that loss of health insurance coverage (that meets minimum standards) as a result of job loss is considered a qualifying life event (QLE) year-round and will always open a special enrollment period (SEP) for an otherwise eligible resident.

Special enrollment period available through May 25th

The Health Connector established a Special Enrollment Period for any otherwise eligible individual who does not currently have health insurance coverage, or may have experienced changes in circumstances, to enroll in health insurance. Typically, a person who does not have a qualifying life event is only able to enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment, which occurs in the fall. This SEP provides access to health insurance coverage for those individuals who may not have enrolled during Open Enrollment 2020. Individuals can access the SEP through their on-line account and more information can be found here: https://www.mahealthconnector.org/massachusetts-health-connector-extends-enrollment-an-additional-30-daysfor-uninsured-individuals

Importance of reporting income changes

The Health Connector is urging members to make changes to their online application to reflect any changes in circumstances, such as losing a job, reduced hours, or other reduced income. Many Health Connector members receive state and federal subsidies that make monthly health insurance premiums more affordable. The Health Connector is communicating with members to remind them to return to their online accounts to update their information (income, etc.) as it may result in a lower monthly premium. Individuals who may not have received financial subsidies previously may be newly eligible for financial assistance to make health insurance premiums more affordable. All members should return to their accounts to report any changes in circumstances.

Health Connecter pausing terminations and reductions of subsidies

The Health Connector has paused terminations or reduction of subsidies that would otherwise result from members not responding to requests for information. The Health Connector is also taking emergency steps to prevent termination and suspension of health care services for members, currently in delinquency, that have been unable to pay premiums in March and would otherwise have had their April coverage terminated. The Health Connector has created a temporary premium deferral program that allows individual and small employer members to hold off on making premium payments until a later date. The Health Connector is contacting members who are eligible for the premium deferral program in their May premium invoice to inform them of next steps.

Important dates for members

For new members, the monthly 23rd deadline remains critical for plan selection and payment. The Health Connector is unable to make adjustments that would introduce flexibility with respect to this initial enrollment deadline. For existing members, updates and changes to their information that are submitted after the 23rd will now be honored to take effect on the first of the next month (i.e. change of information submitted on 4/24 – 4/30 will be effective for 5/1).

Previously, if a member made an update to their application that changed their subsidy benefit

after the 23rd of the month, it would not take effect beginning the next month (i.e. change of information submitted on 4/24 – /30 will be effective for 6/1).

Call center assistance

New and existing members are encouraged to update their accounts online https://www.mahealthconnector.org/ or call customer service for assistance 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765) as the four Health Connector Walk-In Centers in Springfield, Worcester, Brockton and Boston have been temporarily closed to support public health. Navigator and Certified Application Counselors continue to be available, but with limited in-person availability. They have the ability to assist consumers remotely, and individuals should always call first to discuss the best way to access assistance

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