IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 6

ACA Open Enrollment in Full Swing
Traveling Nurses Key to Staffing Solutions
Briefly Noted

ACA Open Enrollment in Full Swing
Nov.1 marked the beginning of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplace open enrollment for coverage that takes effect Jan. 1. Consumers can purchase new plans, re-enroll in their current plan and window shop for coverage until Dec. 15 on the Get Covered Illinois website.

The Illinois Dept. of Insurance (DOI) is advising consumers to start shopping early for coverage and to look at all the options on and off the marketplace (or the “Exchange”). DOI Director Jennifer Hammer said, “We are starting to see signs that the Exchange is stabilizing given this year’s rates, a new insurer entering the on-Exchange market in 2019, and no insurers from last year exiting.”

All plans offered on the health insurance marketplace must cover the same set of Essential Health Benefits. According to DOI, average rates for the 2019 lowest-cost silver and gold plans decreased from last year for the first time, while the lowest cost bronze plans modestly increased. Financial assistance, based on income and family size, is available this year.

DOI is encouraging Illinois consumers to:

  • Purchase coverage between now and Dec.15;
  • Utilize free resources such as the Get Covered Connector and the toll-free help line (in English and Spanish) at 866-311-1119 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday;
  • Obtain in-person assistance at a Get Covered Illinois event, held throughout the state; and
  • Contact a trusted, licensed insurance agent for more information on off-exchange plans.

Traveling Nurses Key to Staffing Solutions
With a nationwide shortage of 800,000 registered nurses projected by 2020, hospital executives across the country are adding traveling nurses to meet demand and accommodate facility expansions, according to a recent KPMG survey analysis.

The survey found that other strong influences include a preference for the flexibility of traveling nurses and the need for additional nursing staff during uprgrades of electronic medical record systems.

Increasing demand for traveling nurses means job candidates have a greater ability to choose where they work and they often drive the marketplace, according to IHA Strategic Partner FocusOne Solutions.

Among hospital executives, the KPMG survey identified top factors considered when hiring a traveling nurse:

  • Patient care quality;
  • Cost;
  • Experience;
  • Flexibility;
  • Specialty; and
  • Time to hire.

A recent FocusOne blog post on current healthcare staffing challenges offers additional insight into the use of traveling nurses. FocusOne Solutions is a leading provider of managed services solutions and vendor management software—and can help your organization incorporate traveling nurses to supplement your staffing needs. See our flyer to learn more.

Briefly Noted
Following feedback from clinicians and others in the healthcare community, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) moved its Quality Payment Program (QPP) resources to the newly redesigned Quality Payment Program Resource Library on qpp.cms.gov. This change makes QPP information and resources available in one central location. A search function allows users to search for resources by year, reporting track, performance category, and by document type.

The Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services has partially lifted a sanction against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois to allow Medicaid managed care participants to voluntarily enroll in the insurer’s HealthChoice Illinois plan, but the hold on automatic assignment will remain in place.