KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CBO Projects Lower Health Law Cost; Oregon Lawmakers Seek Exchange Review

The cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office takes into account lower-than-projected enrollment this year. Meanwhile, Oregon's Democratic senators ask the Government Accountability Office to examine federal funding of that state's website a day after House Republicans make a similar request.

CQ HealthBeat: CBO Projects Lower 10-Year Cost For Health Insurance Expansion
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday reduced its estimate for the cost of expanding coverage under the health care law by $9 billion over 10 years, thanks mostly to lower-than-projected enrollment. In its annual budget outlook released last month, the CBO had said that 1 million fewer people will receive coverage through the law's exchanges in 2014 than previously projected (Ethridge, 3/4).

Politico Pro: Lawmakers Seek GAO Review Of Oregon Health Exchange Problems
Two Senate Democrats have joined a Republican call for a federal investigation into how federal money was spent implementing Obamacare in Oregon. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of Oregon, have requested that the Government Accountability Office look into the approximately $300 million in federal money that was authorized to be spent on Cover Oregon, the state’s deeply troubled insurance exchange. Their request is dated the day after Republican Rep. Greg Walden and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton made a similar request of the GAO (Haberkorn, 3/4).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Legislature Passes Bills On IT Contracting, Enrollment Deadline Extensions
Two bills aimed at addressing problems with the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange passed in the [state] House and Senate on Tuesday. House Bill 4122 would require independent quality assurance oversight on contracted technology projects that cost more than $5 million and other projects that meet certain criteria. The bill passed the Senate 25 to 5 and returns to the House for approval of Senate amendments. House Bill 4154 would extend whistleblower protections to Cover Oregon employees and allow the governor to remove all Cover Oregon board members in a single year. It would also direct Cover Oregon to seek a federal waiver to extend the enrollment deadline by a month to April 30, and to seek federal tax credits for small businesses (Zheng, 3/4).

In other marketplace news -

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Washington State's Insurance Ads: Quirky And Hip Or Offensive?
Are the new ads promoting health insurance for Washington state's young people quirky, hip and funny — or are they insulting and offensive? Michael Marchand says it doesn't matter. "I don't care if people like or hate what I'm doing, so long as they get the URL right," said Marchand, director of communications for the Washington Healthplanfinder, the website where people can buy subsidized health insurance plans (Stiffler, 3/4).

The Associated Press: Fla. Health Choices Launches State Exchange 
The troubled Florida Health Choices program launched an insurance exchange Tuesday, after several delays, that is separate from the Affordable Care Act marketplace. CEO Rose Naff delayed the launch last month after 10 times higher than anticipated interest in the site prompted technology experts to retool the website (Kennedy, 3/4).

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Health Exchange To Create Advisory Panel 
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange said Tuesday it is forming a "standing advisory committee" to address policy and other issues (Walker, 3/4).

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