KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

100K Sign Up For Coverage Through Insurance Exchange In N.Y., But Problems Elsewhere Persist

More than 100,000 people in New York have signed up for coverage on the health insurance exchange -- most in private plans. In the meantime, a Maryland official expresses some doubt that fixes will be done to their exchange by a self-imposed deadline. Also, updates from exchanges in Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, Oregon, Wisconsin and Colorado.

The New York Times: 100,000 Have Signed Up On New York Health Exchange, Officials Say
More than 100,000 people have signed up for coverage through New York State’s health exchange, with two-thirds of them in private plans, significant developments as the state tries to capture a large pool of uninsured residents, state officials said Tuesday. As of Monday, about 69,500 people had selected a private insurance plan through the exchange, in addition to 31,400 who have signed up for Medicaid, the government insurance for the poor, the state health department said. In mid-November, the Medicaid to private insurance ratio was about 50-50, but began tipping toward the private side after that (Hartocollis, 12/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post:: Brown Says Md. Health Exchange Still Evolving
Under fire from political rivals in Maryland's governor's race, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown pledged Tuesday to remain focused on fixing the state's bedeviled health care exchange and conduct a full assessment later on why its website has been troubled with computer problems. Brown, who is running for governor, took the lead on implementing health care reform in Maryland. Now, as the state's health care exchange remains challenged more than two months after its launch, Brown is faced with questions about whether the exchange is a lemon (12/10).

The Baltimore Sun: Uncertainty Surrounds Md. Health Exchange Deadline
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown cast uncertainty Tuesday on the administration's ability to meet a deadline for repairs of the state's online insurance marketplace, which has had one of the country's most troubled rollouts under Obamacare (Walker and Cohn, 12/10).

Politico: Michigan May Join States Banning Abortion In Obamacare Plans
Nearly half the states are banning abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchanges almost four years after battles over the issue nearly derailed passage of the Affordable Care Act. Michigan could become the 24th state to ban most abortions in exchange plans this week, after an unusual citizens’ petition drive that allows state lawmakers to resurrect a bill the governor had vetoed and vote it into law without his signature (Cunningham, 12/11). 

Pioneer Press: MNsure Helpline Waits Reach An Hour; Health Exchange Increasing Call Center Staff
The MNsure call center is struggling to handle an influx of questions from people trying to finalize health insurance for next year. Callers to the help line for Minnesota's new health insurance exchange were being told Tuesday afternoon they had to wait 60 minutes for assistance (Snowbeck, 12/10).

The Associated Press: Vt. Health Care Groups Says Most Small Biz Covered
About three-quarters of Vermont small business employees are enrolled in a health insurance plan that's part of Vermont Health Connect, and they are set to begin receiving health benefits through the new system next month, the Department of Vermont Health Access announced Monday. Like the federal health care website, Vermont's site has been plagued with problems (Ring, 12/10).

The Oregonian: 30,000 Cover Oregon Enrollment Packets Still Not In The Mail, State Official Says
More than 30,000 individuals who met Cover Oregon's deadline for submitting health insurance applications still don't have enrollment packets in hand, a state official acknowledged Tuesday. The concession by Dr. Bruce Goldberg, interim director of the state's exchange, raises serious concerns about the state's ability to meet Gov. John Kitzhaber's promise to successfully enroll all Oregonians who need individual insurance Jan. 1.  Of particular concern are the more than 20,000 individuals whose high-risk health insurance plans have no chance of being extended past Dec. 31 (Hunsberger, 12/10). 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Obamacare Sign-Up Hits 7,200 In Wisconsin As System Shows Improvement
About 7,200 Wisconsin residents so far have signed up for health coverage through new online federal insurance marketplaces, a state official said Tuesday. Dan Schwartzer, deputy state insurance commissioner, said there are signs the insurance exchange is working somewhat better after weeks of a troubled rollout for the federal law known as Obamacare. Schwartzer, who spoke at a luncheon organized by Wisconsin Health News, said the state's estimate of sign-up figures isn't exact but that in past weeks it had tracked closely with the official federal statistics (Stein, 12/10).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Enrollments, Wait Times Jump
Enrollments in Colorado’s health exchange jumped in December with an additional 5,094 people signing up for private health insurance during the first eight days of the month, according to exchange officials. But enrollments remain well below Connect for Health Colorado’s lowest projections and managers are now considering revising those projections downward. … In the meantime, wait times to talk with a customer service agent at the exchange’s call center have increased to 30 to 40 minutes (Kerwin McCrimmon, 12/10).

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