KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Exchanges, Essential Benefits Issues Central To Health Law Implementation

News outlets are reporting on states' efforts to define "essential benefits" as lawmakers and state officials press for information about how health exchanges will be created.

Kaiser Health News: States Moving Ahead On Defining 'Essential' Health Insurance Benefits Under Federal Law
With a Monday target for submitting their lists of "essential health benefits" to the federal government, 15 states and the District of Columbia have made their choices and 17 more states are expected to do so in the next few weeks, according to consulting firm Avalere Health. The health law lists 10 broad categories of essential benefits, including preventive care, emergency services, maternity care, hospital and doctors’ services, and prescription drugs (Galewitz, 9/30). 

Politico Pro: Lawmakers Question HHS On Exchange Grants Oversight
Two top Republicans on Friday demanded that the Obama administration explain what they call "inadequate or non-existent" oversight of the money being given out to states to implement the health reform law's insurance exchanges. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) say there have been few restrictions on the more than $1 billion that has already been distributed (Haberkorn, 9/28).

Minnesota Public Radio: In New Health Exchange, Human Element Of Customer Service Is Up For Debate
If you lack health insurance, or have coverage through an individual or small group policy, it's likely you will be using a so-called insurance exchange in early 2014 ... Would you know how to evaluate an array of different premiums, co-pays and deductibles? The software that will run the insurance exchange is supposed to make it easy to compare health plans side by side, much like Expedia or Orbitz provide a list of flights by price and departure time (Stawicki, 10/1).

Minnesota Post: GOP Rep. Gottwalt Has (A Long List Of) Questions About Health Insurance Exchange
Following word Thursday that Minnesota state officials have received another $42.5 million to help plan the state health insurance exchange, Republican state Rep. Steve Gottwalt, chair of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, has lots of questions. In a letter today to Mike Rothman, state Commerce commissioner, ... has more than 70 specific questions about where the exchange is headed, and says he wants the answers by Oct. 1, "so Minnesotans have some time to review and understand them before the November 16th federal deadline to file for preliminary approval" (Kimball, 9/28).

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