KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Enrollment Figures Give Clearer View Of Exchange Efforts In States

Officials in California, Maryland, Illinois, Kansas and Georgia give status checks on their online health insurance exchanges. In the meantime, officials in Oregon are pressuring their website contractor, Oracle, to speed up fixes to the marketplace as insurers consider extending deadlines there.

Los Angeles Times: California Enrolls 107,000 In Obamacare Policies Through November
California's health exchange has signed up 107,087 people in Obamacare policies through the end of November, federal data show, accounting for nearly a third of enrollment nationwide. The federal figures released Wednesday also show that 181,817 Californians have qualified for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program for the poor (Terhune, 12/11).

The Washington Post: O'Malley, Back From A Trade Mission, Plans To Provide Update On Health Insurance Rollout
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who recently returned from a trade mission to Brazil and El Salvador, plans to brief the media on Thursday regarding the status of the state's online health insurance exchange, an aide said. O'Malley's expected appearance comes just two days after Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) addressed reporters on the same subject and declined to say whether the state would meet a mid-December target set by O'Malley to fix the major glitches that have hindered enrollments in private insurance plans (Wagner, 12/12). 

The Associated Press: Feds: More Than 7K Illinoisans Select Health Care Plans
More than 7,000 Illinois residents signed up for private insurance coverage in the first two months of the troubled website, less than 30 percent of the federal government's projection for the state's enrollment at this point of the rollout (Johnson, 12/11).

The Associated Press: Kansans Slow To Embrace Health Marketplace In Nov.
Kansans remained slow to enroll in health insurance plans in November through the online marketplace set up under the federal health care overhaul, though enrollments did jump, figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed Wednesday (Hanna, 12/11).

Georgia Health News: Exchange Enrollment Up, But Still Weak 
The number of Georgians signing up for a health plan through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange increased to 6,859 by the end of last month, up from 1,390 as of Nov. 2, federal officials announced Wednesday. The rise in enrollees reflects, in part, a better-functioning federal website, which has been plagued with problems since ACA enrollment began Oct. 1. ... November enrollment in the federally run exchanges — used in Georgia and 35 other states — was more than four times greater than October’s reported enrollment number, HHS said (Miller, 12/11).

The Oregonian: Oregon's Health Exchange Woes Spark Tension With Largest Contractor, Oracle Corp. 
After Oregon's high-profile failure to build a functioning health insurance exchange, the already strained relations with its largest contractor, Oracle Corp., escalated into finger pointing and acrimony in November. Cover Oregon emails obtained by The Oregonian show that it enlisted a high-profile trio of political heavyweights for help as its website, which has cost more than $150 million, still didn't work. Democrats Gov. John Kitzaber, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader took turns calling Oracle's top executives on the carpet in October and November, demanding the technology giant deliver the functional health care exchange it had promised (Manning, 12/12). 

The Oregonian: Insurers Consider Extending Deadlines To Address Cover Oregon Backlog
State officials and insurance carriers are looking at extending certain enrollment deadlines to deal with problems at the state's overwhelmed health insurance exchange, one company executive said Wednesday. Insurance executives met Tuesday with state Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali and Cover Oregon director Bruce Goldberg to discuss ways the exchange can get more time to  work through its backlog of more than 30,000 applications. At least some insurance carriers tentatively agreed to push back the deadline they would take enrollment information from Cover Oregon from Dec. 23 to Dec. 30, said Dawn Bonder, chief executive officer and president of Health Republic Insurance, one of two new Oregon-based cooperatives (Hunsberger, 12/11).

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