KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Meet The People With ‘The Worst Job To Have Right Now’: State Insurance Commissioners

These officials are tasked with the unenviable job of keeping the markets stable as uncertainty reigns supreme. Meanwhile, a look at one who's made national headlines for her candid take on the state of the exchanges.

Kaiser Health News: State Insurance Commissioners In Hot Seat In National Health Care Drama
With insurance premiums rising and national efforts at health reform in turmoil, a group of 50 state bureaucrats whom many voters probably can’t name have considerable power over consumers’ health plans: state insurance commissioners. As insurers threaten to exit state markets and voters at town halls complain about unaffordable prices, the state commissioners are central characters in the unfolding drama that is America’s health coverage. (Appleby, 9/6)

Nashville Tennessean: Julie Mix McPeak, Tennessee's Insurance Chief, Leads Broad Agency
Last Wednesday, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance jumped between a meeting with an insurer and another to coordinate teams the state would dispatch to Houston to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. ... She's traveled to Washington a few times, and does so again this week to testify at a high-profile U.S. Senate hearing Wednesday at the request of Sen. Lamar Alexander. The veteran Republican lawmaker said McPeak is a hit with Senators from both sides of the aisle because she turns insurance jargon into plain English. (Fletcher, 9/5)

And in other health law and marketplace news —

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Penn Study: It's Still Harder To Get Insurance Coverage For Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment
Despite years of efforts and multiple laws, insurance coverage for mental health and substance abuse still is not on a par with benefits for physical health, according to a new study of Affordable Care Act plans. University of Pennsylvania researchers, analyzing details of insurance plans around the country, found that “narrow networks” were far more common for behavioral health providers, especially psychiatrists, than they were for primary care providers. Narrow networks — which mean a more limited selection of providers — have become more common as insurers look for ways to contain premium costs. (Sapatkin, 9/5)

Georgia Health News: Premium Increases For Georgia’s 2018 Exchange May Not Be Over
The four insurers offering coverage in Georgia’s insurance exchange next year are increasing their proposed rates beyond the big premium hikes that they first sought, state officials said Tuesday. ... The ever-increasing premiums proposed by insurers reflect the instability surrounding the insurance exchanges, which provide health plans for individuals and families who don’t have job-based or government coverage. (Miller, 9/5)

The Baltimore Sun: Evergreen Health To Be Liquidated After Being Found Insolvent
Evergreen Health, a Baltimore-based insurer created to sell coverage on Maryland’s health exchange, is to be liquidated and all members’ policies are to be canceled at the end of September after a judge ruled that the company is insolvent and regulators determined there are no viable investors. The decision by Baltimore Circuit Judge Yolanda Tanner last week will leave about 24,000 Evergreen customers looking for new coverage by the end of the month. Tanner ordered a special 30-day enrollment period, which began Sept. 1, during which Evergreen members may choose a new plan. (Gantz, 9/5)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.