KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Looking Forward: How To Judge The Rollout; Challenges To Come

Following the official end of the enrollment season, some outlets turn their attention to the upcoming issues surrounding the law.

Propublica: Judging Obamacare: How Do We Know If It's A Success Or Failure? 
One day very soon, the focus on Obamacare will turn from signing up new enrollees to quantifying the law's success — or failure. ... Dr. David Blumenthal of the Commonwealth Fund recently told me that any attempt to review the success of the law must go beyond those who sign up for coverage on the exchanges. It should include those who gained coverage through the expansion of state Medicaid programs for the poor, as well as young adults who are now able to stay on their parents’ health plans because of the law (Ornstein, 3/31).

The Associated Press: Q&A: Status Update As Health Law Marks A Milestone
Like so much about the government's health care overhaul, Monday's deadline to sign up for coverage in 2014 didn't turn out quite as planned: Many people still are eligible for extensions that will let them enroll. The change of plans shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given the disastrous rollout last fall, the mass policy cancellation notices that shocked even the president, and other set-in-law deadlines that turned out not to be not so firm. ... It's time for a status report as the law marks a milestone, although no one’s quite sure how to define success (Benac, 4/1).

CBS News: Obamacare Enrollment Is Over -- Now What?
Open enrollment on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces closed on Monday night, bringing an end to the most turbulent part of the four-year-old law's history. The Obama administration is hailing the enrollment process as a success, but it will take time for the dust to settle -- we have yet to hear exactly how many people have benefited from the law, or what its impact on the insurance market will be. Furthermore, the enrollment process isn't over for everyone. Here's a look at where the law stands now (Condon, 4/1).

Reuters: Obamacare Hits Milestone, But Detours Ahead For U.S. Health Law 
President Barack Obama's embattled U.S. healthcare law, having survived a rollout marred by technology failures, reaches a milestone on Monday with the end of its first enrollment wave, and with the administration likely to come close to its goal of signing up 7 million people in private health insurance. But as the White House and its allies declare victory, major hurdles remain. And it will take years to determine whether the law will accomplish its mission of creating stable insurance markets that can help a significant number of America's nearly 50 million uninsured gain health coverage, experts say (Morgan, 3/31).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Fights Over The Health Law Aren't Over
The rollout of the government website for signing up for insurance was a disaster. ... But now that the website has seemingly delivered close to – if not more than – the seven million enrollees needed by the deadline, the White House can breathe a little easier. Not for long, however. ... Now critics of the law will turn their focus on the penalties for those who didn’t sign up and any trouble with coverage or even the most modest increase in premiums. In that sense it's a front the White House – and any Democrat up for election this November – will have to keep fighting (Lee, 4/1).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Sign-Up Ends As Began With Flaws, New Challenge 
The first phase of Obamacare ended yesterday much the same way it began: The federal website drew 1.2 million visitors by noon and crashed at least twice. As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act moves into a new stage today, when most consumers must be insured or pay a fine, an estimated 45 million Americans remain uncovered, a continuing burden for medical providers and governments, and a constant target for Republicans seeking to upend President Barack Obama’s signature initiative in the midterm election (Chen, Talev and Wayne, 4/1).

CQ HealthBeat: End Of Open Enrollment Won't Yield Quick Answers On Uninsured Rate
As heavy traffic of up to 125,000 applicants at a time on the federal health exchange website sent users into a virtual waiting room on the last day of open enrollment, policy analysts began to speculate about how much the last-minute sign-ups would reduce the uninsured rate, and whether the trend can be sustained. Recent surveys, statements by state officials and anecdotal evidence suggest that the percentage of people without health coverage is inching downward (Adams, 3/31).

CBS News: So You Missed The Obamacare Deadline? Here's What To Do
You may be in for a rude awakening today if you're uninsured and missed yesterday's enrollment deadline for Obamacare coverage in 2014. Of course, like everything having to do with the government, there are some loopholes and ways to pick up coverage this year. But for many uninsured Americans who dragged their feet or opted against buying coverage, the decision could prove costly not only this year, but next (Picchi, 4/1).

Fox News: ObamaCare Sign-Ups Reportedly On Track To Hit 7 Million – But Will They Pay?
On the last day to sign up for ObamaCare, the health care overhaul was reportedly on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for insurance coverage, though the number of enrollees who have paid for their insurance premiums is still unclear.  Government officials confirmed the 7 million target to The Associated Press late Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an official announcement (4/1).

Fox News: Need An ObamaCare Enrollment Extension? Here’s What To Do
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a temporary reprieve for those who still have to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange. Those having issues completing enrollment by March 31 can check a box on that indicates they in need of an extension. The Washington Post was first to report of the new feature on the federal exchange. The amount of extra time people will have to enroll is still not clear, but it’s important consumers that are requesting the leeway understand checking the box doesn’t mean they have coverage, and it is still on the individual to complete the process (Rogers, 3/31).

PBS News: At Enrollment Deadline, Affordability May Be Real Test Of Affordable Care Act
The crush of last-minute signups for health insurance at drove the website out of service for part of the day. Some applicants turned to in-person help centers around the country to enroll. Health policy analyst Susan Dentzer and Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News join Judy Woodruff to discuss what’s at stake for the Affordable Care Act (Woodruff, 3/31).

McClatchy: Many Newly Insured Still Face Health Coverage Upheaval
[New] research estimates that about half of those with subsidized coverage obtained from federal or state marketplaces will lose it within a year because of changes in their incomes or other family circumstances, such as divorce, relocation or the births of children. The same is true for about half of new Medicaid recipients, who are likely to lose program eligibility at some point over the next year for a variety of reasons, said Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the Harvard School of Public Health. ... Along with being a bookkeeping headache for insurers and Medicaid administrators, churning undermines the continuity of care between doctors and patients by causing patients to miss treatments and sometimes seek new caregivers. It also has a financial impact (Pugh, 3/31).

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: How The Administration Could Miss A CBO Obamacare Target
The large media focus in the first Obamacare enrollment period has been on whether the administration would hit CBO targets for exchange enrollment. The CBO has said it expects 6 million people to enroll through exchanges in 2014 -- more than 6 million have signed up, so that target looks in reach if enough people pay their premiums. But about one-third of those exchange signups were previously uninsured people, according to the report findings. It also found about 4.5 million adults had newly enrolled in Medicaid; 9 million people, most who were previously insured, have signed up for individual plans off the exchanges; and fewer than 1 million people who had their coverage cancelled remain uninsured (Millman, 3/31).

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