CMS says it will allow insurers to lower premiums for individuals enrolled in small-group or individual health plans throughout the remainder of this year "to help ensure that consumers struggling to pay their premiums can continue to be covered and receive the care they may need during" America's coronavirus epidemic, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Maryland, Mississippi, and New York.
- Maryland: CMS on Tuesday released guidance that allows insurers to temporarily reduce 2020 premiums for individuals enrolled in small-group or individual health plans throughout the remainder of this year. Under the guidance, insurers can offer premium reductions for one or more months, as is consistent with state law. Previously, CMS did not permit insurers to change small-group and individual health plan enrollees' premiums after the start of a plan's benefit year. CMS said it has temporarily changed that policy "to help ensure that consumers struggling to pay their premiums can continue to be covered and receive the care they may need during" America's coronavirus epidemic (CMS release, 8/4; Hackett, Healthcare Finance News, 8/4).
- Mississippi: Schools in Corinth, Mississippi, last week brought back hundreds of students for in-person classes. As of this Thursday, six students and one staff member in the Corinth School District newly tested positive for the coronavirus, and the district had sent home 116 students to quarantine, a spokesperson for the district confirmed to the Washington Post. Lee Childress, the school district's superintendent, during a Facebook Live broadcast this Tuesday said he did not plan to shift course on the district's in-person reopening. "Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school," Childress said (Peiser, Washington Post, 8/6).
- New York: Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Wednesday said New York City will set up checkpoints at bridges and tunnels leading into the city to enforce a state-wide order that requires people arriving in New York from states 34 states and Puerto Rico, where rates of coronavirus transmission are comparatively high, to self-isolate. At the checkpoints, which will be managed by the city's sheriff's office, staff will require people arriving from affected areas to fill out a form for the city's coronavirus contact-tracing program and direct the individual to quarantine for up to two weeks. De Blasio said he hopes the checkpoints will show that the city is taking the order seriously. People caught violating the quarantine order could face a fine of up to $10,000 (Ansari/Honan, Wall Street Journal, 8/5; Gold, New York Times, 8/5).