KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Scramble To Pay Hefty Tab For Health Exchange Fixes

According to The Wall Street Journal, five states -- Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon -- will look to their own funds, remaining federal grants and new federal funding requests to pay these costs. In addition, a new study examines the impact of cost-sharing subsidies. News outlets also report on health exchange developments in Missouri and Minnesota.  

The Wall Street Journal: Five States' Health-Care Exchanges See Costly Fixes
Five states that launched health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act expect to spend as much as $240 million to fix their sites or switch to the federal marketplace, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon estimate the money will be needed to fix problems with troubled marketplaces or to join the federal exchange before the next enrollment period in November, according to an analysis of data provided by the state exchanges. Funds may come from the states, remaining federal grants and new federal requests (Armour, 6/3).

CQ Healthbeat:  Insurers Don’t Lower Costs for All Care Through Cost-Sharing Subsidies, Study Says
Low-income people who get federal assistance to help pay insurance co-pays and deductibles should check to see whether insurers are lowering costs for all kinds of care, according to an analysis by Avalere Health that was released Tuesday. The health care law provides financial help to people who buy insurance in the new health law marketplaces if their income is less than 250 percent of the federal poverty line. The extra help with cost-sharing is available for a single person with income between $11,670 and $29,175 in 2014. But the Avalere analysis shows that many health insurance plans do not lower cost-sharing for treatments such as specialty drugs (Adams, 6/3).

The Oregonian: Moda Health Mulls Raising Premiums For Individual Market As Competitors Drop Rates
After a tumultuous first-ever open enrollment period under federal health reforms, Oregon health insurers are bracing for round two. Rate filings by carriers this week show that barely a month after seizing a commanding share of Oregon's individual health insurance market in this year's enrollment period, Moda Health is asking for an average 12.5 rate increase in 2015. Meanwhile, many competitors are seeking to drop their premiums next year to get closer to Moda's 2014 premiums (Budnick, 6/3).

Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. Legislative Auditor To Review MNsure, Despite Federal Directive
Minnesota's legislative auditor will continue reviewing a main part of MNsure's operations -- despite a federal directive not to. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid say state auditors should not review how well their states are determining who is eligible for public health insurance programs such as Medical Assistance. The directive applies to last Oct. 1, the day online health insurance marketplaces such as MNsure began determining such eligibility (Stawicki, 6/3).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Wentzville Obamacare Center In Showdown With Congress
A showdown has begun between Congress and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services over allegations that employees were doing little work at a center near St. Louis that processes applications under the new federal health care law. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, wrote CMS Director Marilyn Tavenner Tuesday complaining that the federal agency had not complied with his May 30 deadline request for answers to questions about a facility, near Wentzville, run by the contractor Serco. Whistleblowers have alleged that employees there and in other Serco health-care application facilities in other states did little or no work. A CMS spokesman responded with a written statement that his agency will respond to the letter from the Missouri congressional delegation, but that statement had no timeline as to when that will be (Raasch, 6/3).

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