KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Covered California Gets Federal Grant To Improve Customer Service, Boost Enrollment

Also in the news, reports about state exchange challenges and difficulties in Nevada, Texas, Maryland, Hawaii and Minnesota.  

Los Angeles Times: Covered California Gets Federal Money To Improve Service, Enrollment
California's health exchange said it would use an additional $155 million in federal grant money to address customer service woes and to boost low enrollment among the key market of uninsured Latinos. The Covered California exchange announced the injection of money from the Obama administration Thursday as it faced growing criticism for dismal service and a disappointing sign-up rate among Latinos (Terhune, 1/23).

The Associated Press: Calif. Health Exchange Criticized For Sign-Ups
After celebrating its enrollment numbers earlier this week, California's health-insurance exchange came under heavy criticism Thursday for its lackluster efforts to sign up Latinos and for continued paperwork problems that have left untold numbers of consumers in limbo. Members of Covered California's board of directors also questioned some of the exchange's spending priorities (Verdin, 1/23).

The Associated Press: Nevada Health Exchange Glitch Delays Insurance Cards
One month since enrolling, (Gary) Smith is one of several Nevadans who were unable to get insurance cards in January despite paying through the Nevada Health Link insurance exchange website. The program — which blamed a glitch for Smith’s problems — could not provide an exact number of how many Nevadans were affected, only saying that it affected “a small group of people” (1/23).

NPR: Texas Issues Tough Rules For Insurance Navigators
Texas has imposed strict new regulations on the insurance helpers, or navigators, who work in the community to enroll people in health plans under the Affordable Care Act. The navigators must register with the state, undergo a background check and fingerprinting, and complete 20 hours of additional training — beyond the 20 to 30 hours of federal training they've already received (Feibel, 1/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: O’Malley Calls For Minimum Wage Hike In Speech
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley used his final State of the State speech on Thursday to urge lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage and to assure residents his administration would keep working on the troubled health care exchange. … However, the governor noted ongoing problems with the health care exchange. The troubled rollout has been frustrating for state officials who aspired to make Maryland a model for health care reform implementation. O’Malley described the glitch-ridden exchange website as “a source of great frustration, especially for those Marylanders who were looking forward to obtaining health care for the very first time in their lives” (1/23).

The Associated Press: House Bills Aim To Fix Hawaii’s Health Care Exchange; 1 Would Make Exchange A State Entity
Leaders of two key committees in the Hawaii House on Thursday introduced a package of bills to help fix the state's troubled health care exchange. One measure would make the Hawaii Health Connector a state entity, and another would change the composition of the exchange's board (McAvoy, 1/23).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: An Obamacare Report Card
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold was on Boston’s WBUR’s On Point Thursday to talk about the latest developments with the health law — how many people have signed up and what they’re encountering in the process (1/24).

MinnPost: MNsure Leaders Face Big Decisions, Bleak Projections
MNsure leaders now face some big — and expensive — decisions, after hearing a blunt assessment of the health exchange's continuing operational problems and bleak projections about its enrollment and finances. The biggest decision: whether to stick with making small step-by-step improvements, or blow up the whole thing and start over (Nord, 1/23).

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