KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

With The Go-To For 36 States, National Exchange Becoming A Likely Possibility

Politico reports that a national enrollment system is what liberals wanted all along, and now, because some GOP governors took a pass on state-run marketplaces while some Democratic states bungled theirs, it's picking up steam. News outlets also report on the latest exchange news from Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington.

Politico: GOP’s Obamacare Fears Come True 
Liberals wanted a national enrollment system under Obamacare. They might just get it. Right now, 36 states rely on, the federal exchange, to enroll people in health coverage. At least two more states are opting in next year, with a few others likely to follow. ... The federal option was supposed to be a limited and temporary fallback. But a shift to a bigger, more permanent Washington-controlled system is instead underway -- without preparation, funding or even public discussion about what a national exchange covering millions of Americans means for the future of U.S. health care. It’s coming about because intransigent Republicans shunned state exchanges, and ambitious Democrats bungled them (Cheney and Haberkorn, 6/1). 

The Washington Post: Maryland Looks To Connecticut For Health Exchange Answers
The Access Health CT Web site is everything that the Maryland Health Connection site had hoped to be. The format is simple and easy to navigate, allowing Connecticut residents to browse health insurance plans before creating an account. More importantly, the system properly relays enrollment information to insurance companies and the federal government, making real the Affordable Care Act’s vision of quickly insuring tens of thousands of previously uninsured people (Johnson, 5/31).

The Associated Press: Board OKs $43.5M In Contacts On Health Exchange
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Board voted Friday for a five-year contract with Xerox totaling $29.3 million to host new technology used in the more successful health exchange website used in Connecticut. The board also voted for a three-year contract with Deloitte totaling $14.2 million. That contract is for software licenses, both for development and production (5/30).

The Baltimore Sun:  State Won’t Tap Federal Grants For New Exchange
Maryland will not need to ask the federal government for additional grant money to build a new health exchange that will replace the faulty one the state was forced to scrap. Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, also chair of the board that oversees Maryland's exchange, said late Friday that there is enough money left over from building the first exchange plus funding through Medicaid to cover the $40 million to $50 million it will cost to create a new site where the uninsured can buy private health plans and enroll in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Walker, 5/31).

The Associated Press: Ill. Insurance Marketplace To Open For Gay Couples
Illinois' health insurance marketplace is now allowing gay and lesbian couples to enroll for private coverage. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state, Get Covered Illinois announced it will open up special enrollment periods for gay couples. Married same-sex couples and their children can enroll as a family and may qualify for financial help (5/1).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure's COO To Step Down In July
Erik Larson, MNsure's chief operating officer is stepping down in mid-July. In a letter to staff of the state's online insurance marketplace, MNsure CEO Scott Leitz announced that Larson would leave July 11. Leitz lauded Larson for providing valuable leadership from the troubled launch of the website through open enrollment and beyond. Leitz said Larson made MNsure work for Minnesotans (Stawicki, 5/30).

The Seattle Times:  Payment Problems Continue To Vex State’s Online Health Exchange
Two months after open enrollment closed, Washington’s online health-insurance exchange still faces complaints from consumers and organizations about how it is performing in its first year. Many of the complaints involve the enrollment process and, in particular, the system under which enrollees make payments to insurers, payments that are handled by the exchange.  One group, the Association of Washington Healthcare Plans (AWHP), complained recently that an estimated 15 percent of enrollees -- up to 25,000 people -- may have had problems resulting in service or claims payment delays. Cristina Rancourt, 55, and her family are among that 15 percent. The Rancourts, who live in Kirkland, thought they had insurance since they finished the application procedure in December. But about three weeks ago, when they were denied coverage for a prescription, they called their insurer, Premera (Marshall, 6/1).

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