KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Still Wrestle With Exchange Issues From Last Year

In Washington state, officials are still trying to resolve billing and computer issues related to 1,300 accounts. In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick says the problem-plagued website is now fixed and ready to go when enrollment opens Nov. 15, but at an additional cost of $26 million. And in Minnesota, a new plan enters the MNSure marketplace.   

The Associated Press: 1,300 Health Exchange Accounts Still Have Problems
As Washington's health care exchange prepares for its second open enrollment period, officials were still trying to resolve billing and computer problems involving about 1,300 accounts from the previous round of sign-ups. Exchange officials began with about 24,000 problem accounts that were detected as people started to use their insurance earlier this year. "We have made substantial progress," said Brad Finnegan, associate operations director for Washington Healthplanfinder, who said the remaining billing problems should be resolved this week. He does not expect the same problems to pop up during the next round of sign-ups that begin Nov. 15 (Blankinship, 10/6).

WBUR: Health Care Website Fix Cost Mass. Additional $26M, Patrick Says
With the next open enrollment period set for Nov. 15, Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday said the state’s troubled health care exchange website is fixed, at a cost of an additional $26 million to the state, bringing the federal and state total to $254 million in information technology costs. The $254 million covers calendar years 2011 to 2015, and is $80 million higher than the original $174 million estimate to build the site, according to a Patrick administration spokeswoman. The state’s share of the cost is $42 million, up from the original $16 million. In a September report, The Pioneer Institute, a think tank critical of the state’s efforts, estimated that taxpayers will have spent $600 million to implement a new health exchange, on top of $540 million for a temporary Medicaid program to insure residents who were prevented from signing up for health insurance due to problems with the website (Dumcius, 10/6).

StarTribune: Meidca Makes MNsure Play In Rochester
Medica is launching a new health insurance plan in the Rochester area that offers lower premiums if people primarily get their health care from the Mayo Clinic. For years, insurers have blamed high costs at Mayo for above-average insurance premiums across southeastern Minnesota, but Medica says good care coordination by Mayo doctors will let the insurer charge less for the new product, called "Medica With Mayo Clinic." "Premiums long have been higher in the Rochester area, and that’s really been driven by the providers in that area," said Dannette Coleman, a senior vice president with Medica. The company’s new health insurance plan "allows a single care system to be accountable for your health and wellness, and better coordinate all the services that you’re receiving" (Snowbeck, 10/6).

Meanwhile, in news about Medicaid expansion -

Modern Healthcare: Pa. Medicaid Managed Care Extension Plans Struggle To Sign Providers
Medicaid managed-care plans providing coverage under Pennsylvania's Medicaid expansion are struggling to find enough hospitals and physicians for their networks. Insurers say the problem is false expectations created by the administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and the state Department of Public Welfare that the plans would pay providers more than traditionally low Medicaid rates. "The problem is it's not funded as a commercial-type offering," said Patricia Darnley, CEO of Gateway Health Plan, one of nine plans chosen for the so-called Healthy Pennsylvania demonstration program to expand Medicaid to as many as 500,000 adults with incomes between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level (Dickson, 10/6).

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