KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Eight States Show Significant Drops In Uninsured: Gov’t Report

The Associated Press reports that the eight states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and New York -- with statistically significant coverage gains in the National Health Interview Survey represent a political grab bag. Meanwhile, news outlets in Georgia, Connecticut and Montana detail state-based coverage numbers.

The Associated Press: Report: Eight States Show Big Drops In Uninsured
Eight states saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out Tuesday that has implications for the presidential campaign. All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that is one of two major pathways to coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law’s other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/8)

The Associated Press: Enrollment Rises For Montana Health Insurance Exchange
More Montanans are getting medical coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace. According to the federal government, 58,114 Montana residents enrolled for an insurance plan through the marketplace during the most recent open enrollment period. That's up 7 percent from the previous year. Last year, 54,266 Montanans were enrolled for health coverage through the exchange. (2/8)

The Connecticut Mirror: 116,019 CT Residents Signed Up For Obamacare Plans
In all, 116,019 Connecticut residents signed up for private insurance through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, during the open enrollment period that ended last week, officials said Monday. That figure is slightly higher than the 110,095 who signed up during last year’s enrollment period and exchange officials’ goal for this year of signing up 105,000 to 115,000. (Levin Becker, 2/8)

Changes may be afoot for healthcare.gov —

Kaiser Health News: Will Healthcare.gov Get A California Makeover?
The federal government — in pending proposed rules for 2017 — has signaled it too wants to have more of a hand in crafting plans. Though there are no plans to go as far as a monthly drug copay cap, healthcare.gov would be forging ahead on a path California already paved, swapping variety for simplicity in plan design. (Bartolone, 2/9)

Meanwhile, news outlets also report on how the health law may create tax questions and issues —

The Associated Press: Health Care Law Makes Tax Season Tougher For Small Companies
As more requirements of the health care law take effect, income tax filing season becomes more complex for small businesses. Companies required to offer health insurance have new forms to complete providing details of their coverage. Owners whose payrolls have hovered around the threshold where insurance is mandatory need to be sure their coverage — if they offered it last year — was sufficient to avoid penalties. (Rosenberg, 2/8)

The Hill: ObamaCare Gets Extra Sign-Up Period To Clear Tax Issues
The Obama administration is setting up a new ObamaCare sign-up period for people who failed to file 2014 tax returns. Jan. 31 was the deadline for most people to sign up, but this new period will provide another chance until March 31, for certain people who might have missed out on coverage because of confusion about new ObamaCare requirements regarding taxes and health insurance. People who received tax credits under ObamaCare to help them afford insurance in 2014 were required to file a 2014 tax return in order to make sure they received the right amount of credit. If people failed to file a tax return, they became ineligible for further tax credits starting in 2016. (Sullivan, 2/8)

Kaiser Health News: A 401(k) Withdrawal Can Lead To Trouble For Health Plan Subsidies
It’s not uncommon for people to fail to count one-time income bumps from retirement savings or other sources when they’re estimating their annual income to qualify for advance premium tax credits for marketplace coverage, said Tara Straw, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In the case of retirement savings, “they’re not thinking of it as income because it’s their own money,” she said. But since retirement money is generally deposited on a pretax basis, it counts as income when it’s withdrawn and can affect how much people qualify for in premium tax credits. (Andrews, 2/9)

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