KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

DC OKs Health Insurance Tax To Pay For Exchange

The 1 percent tax will be imposed on all health-related insurance products sold in the nation's capital. Meanwhile, four more companies apply to sell insurance on the Washington state exchange and The Oregonian examines the reasons that state opted to participate in the federal insurance marketplace.

The Washington Post: D.C. Council Approves Broad New Tax On Health Insurance To Cover City’s Exchange
The D.C. Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a broad tax on all health-related insurance products sold in the nation’s capital to solve a big money problem faced by its online health insurance exchange. Under the measure, which will take effect on an emergency basis but eventually face congressional review, the exchange will fund its operating costs through a 1 percent tax on more than $250 million in insurance premiums paid annually by those who live and work in the District (Davis, 5/6).

The Wall Street Journal: D.C. Council Approves Tax To Aid Health Exchange
The city council of Washington, D.C., voted Tuesday to allow a tax on all health insurers selling inside the district to fund its Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace. The plan, submitted by the city's DC Health Link insurance exchange, gives the city the power to tax all health-insurance carriers inside the district for exchange funding. The council opted for taxing all carriers, not just those selling in the exchange, to make the levy lower, according to a copy of the approved resolution (Radnofsky, 5/6).

The Associated Press:  Four More Companies Want To Join Washington Exchange
Four more companies want to join the state's health insurance exchange, and one has applied to sell health insurance in the individual market outside the state-run exchange, the state insurance commissioner announced earlier this week. If the companies' applications are successful, residents of every Washington county will have at least one more choice for health insurance when enrollment opens again in November. The state also would be able to open its promised statewide insurance marketplace for small businesses if a proposal by Moda Health Plan Inc. is approved (Blankinship, 5/6).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: State Moves To Federal Exchange, But Oracle Technology Lives On
In the end, there were 73 million compelling reasons for Oregon to dump its expensive, troubled in-house health care exchange in favor of the federal exchange. Trying to make the Oracle-based system fully functional would have cost at least $78 million, on top of the $248 million already spent, compared to about $5 million for moving to the federal system, Oregon Chief Information Officer Alex Pettit said Tuesday to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Legislative Audits, Information Management and Technology. The third option, adopting another state's exchange, would have cost an estimated $45 million, Pettit said (Manning, 5/6).

The Minneapolis Post:  Resigned MNsure Director Linked To Failed Oregon Exchange
One day after MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov resigned her position last December, a consultant for the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange emailed two top Oregon officials recommending Todd-Malmlov as someone “who may want to dig into some kind of temporary project ASAP.” The email was obtained last week by the U.S. House Oversight Committee, which requested a log of correspondence between state and federal officials from a handful of health insurance exchanges, including MNsure, in March (Henry, 5/6).

NPR: Big Ambitions And Flawed Technology Tripped Up State Exchanges
Among the states that looked to expand health coverage to nearly all their citizens, Massachusetts was an early front-runner. The state passed its own health care law back in 2006 mandating near-universal insurance coverage. That law became a model for federal action. And after the Affordable Care Act went through in 2010, Massachusetts had a head start in bringing health coverage to the uninsured. Yet Massachusetts threw in the towel Tuesday on the problem-plagued online marketplace that was supposed to make health insurance shopping a snap (Hensley, 5/6).

Meanwhile, the impasse over Medicaid expansion in Virginia could have huge fallout on hospitals and doctors --

Modern Healthcare:  Virginia Hospitals Face Financial Pain As Medicaid Expansion Battle Continues
Some Virginia hospitals could take a financial hit and doctors in the state may become less inclined to see Medicaid patients if the state government stops functioning because a current budget impasse does not get resolved by July 1 when the state's new fiscal year begins. A government shutdown could mean a halt to Medicaid payments to hospitals and doctors. If that happens, organizations such as Virginia Commonwealth University Health System and the University of Virginia Health Systems could suffer long-term financial damage, depending on how long the shutdown lasts, said Rick Mayes, an associate professor in the University of Richmond's department of political science, and co-director of the university's Healthcare Studies major (Dickson, 5/6).

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