KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Still Have Time To Build Exchanges, Some Experts Say

Politico Pro reports that some exchange experts aren't buying the argument that states have too little time to set up insurance markets. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports on the fragmented regulatory landscape that insurers selling products in those new markets will face.

Politico Pro: Experts: States Aren't Out Of Time
Some states say it was tardy, shoddy guidance from the Obama administration that forced them to punt on running a state-based health insurance exchange. But many exchange experts aren't buying it, saying plenty of other states have forged ahead and that those that waited until the 11th hour still could. In fact, one prominent consultant said he could get the exchange basics up and running in 90 days. That's the counterpoint to all the complaints governors and other state officials have had about the details — or lack of them — that they say they've gotten from Obama administration on how the health exchanges will work (Norman, 12/11).

Bloomberg: Insurers Face Jumbled Market With Health Exchange Rules
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), the biggest U.S. health insurer, will face a fragmented regulatory landscape in 2014 under the first state insurance marketplaces approved as part of the health-care overhaul. Rules for the six state insurance exchanges that won conditional approval from the Obama administration Dec. 10 are split evenly between those with strict criteria for companies that want to participate and states that have opened their exchanges to all comers, a scenario supported by the insurance industry. A high bar for inclusion could limit the number of insurers offering health plans in some states (Wayne, 12/12).

News outlets also report on specific state decisions about running insurance marketplaces -

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Utah Governor Asks Obama To Approve State's Own Health Care Exchange
Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert is asking President Barack Obama to approve a health insurance exchange the state already has in place and declare that it meets the requirements of the federal health overhaul. It’s not clear he will get his wish (12/11).

MPR: Consultant: Public Trust Is Key To Success Of Health Exchange
A communications consultant told a state panel today that building public trust will be key to the success of a new health insurance exchange. The exchange is a central part of the federal health care law. One out of every five Minnesotans is projected to use the online marketplace to research and buy health insurance beginning in 2014. Prior market research found a low level of trust of health plans among the uninsured people the exchange is supposed to help. Todd Rapp of Minneapolis-based Himle told a state exchange task force that advertisements, messages and other information about the exchange must foster trust, engage the public and appear straightforward. "You're not going to successfully bring a million people onto this program in a month, you know that," Rapp said. "What you want people to do is believe in the program, to believe that they have a voice in the program, and to understand and get the answers that they need." The Minnesota exchange is supposed to be ready to begin enrollment in Oct. 2013 (Stawicki, 12/11).

Politico Pro: Idaho Governor Backs State-Run Exchange
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says he wants his state to set up its own health insurance exchange. Otter, who’s been supportive of a state-based exchange, said it currently seems to be the best way to keep out intervention from the federal government. However, Otter acknowledged that he’ll need legislative support, and he warned that he could change his mind "if circumstances warrant." And the state Legislature has been resistant so far to an exchange, even refusing a $20 million HHS planning grant earlier this year (Millman, 12/11).

Reuters: Idaho Chooses State-Based Insurance Exchange Under "Obamacare"
Idaho Governor Butch Otter reluctantly opted on Tuesday for a state-based health insurance exchange under terms of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, complaining it would do little to cut costs while inflating government. Idaho was one of several Republican-led states that delayed compliance with the Affordable Care Act until after the November 6 presidential election in hopes a victory by Republican candidate Mitt Romney would bring a repeal of the law (Zuckerman, 12/11).

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