KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Exchanges Report November Surge

Still, reports on the ground vary -- with some states offering positive news, while others still are limping along. Here is a sampling of coverage from Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Massachusetts.  

The Washington Post: State-Run Health Insurance Exchanges Report November 'Enrollment Surge'
After anemic enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace, several states running their own online exchanges are reporting a rapid increase in the number of people signing up for coverage, a trend officials say is encouraging for President Obama’s health-care law. By mid-November, the 14 state-based marketplaces reported data showing enrollment has nearly doubled from last month, jumping to about 150,000 from 79,000, according to state and federal statistics. The nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which has been tracking the data, called the most recent numbers "a November enrollment surge" (Sun and Kliff, 11/22).

The Washington Post: In Rural Kentucky, Health-Care Debate Takes Back Seat As The Long-Uninsured Line Up
On the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable. At the White House, President Obama was still apologizing for the botched federal Web site. But in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students (McCrummen, 11/23).

The Star Tribune: Obamacare Mishaps Taint State Exchange
Against a backdrop of mishaps on the federal health insurance exchange, Minnesota and other states that built their own websites are trying to separate themselves from the crush of bad publicity. The state-built sites, while not flawless, have gotten off to a much better start, analysts say. Now, some are worried that the confusion between the two could keep healthy consumers away (Crosby, 11/25).

The Associated Press: Politics Affected Health Care Exchange
Most states led by Democratic governors have opted to run their own online health insurance marketplaces as part of the Affordable Care Act. But in President Barack Obama’s home state, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed unsuccessfully for three years for a state-run marketplace, so Illinois residents now must rely on a crippled federal website (Lester, 11/24).

The Associated Press: MNsure ‘Navigators’ Charged With Spreading Word
Standing at the front of a small classroom on the fourth floor of St. Paul's library, Maureen O'Connell attempted to help the five people at the "MNsure Crash Course" understand how federal health care reform affects their lives...O'Connell is the co-founder and project manager for Health Access MN, a major beneficiary of $3.91 million from a federal government grant to private groups that pledged to recruit Minnesotans to sign up for coverage through MNsure, the state's health insurance exchange (Condon, 11/24).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Sex Sells … Health Insurance?
The Affordable Care Act is good for young adults because it’ll save them money on health care, leaving them more to spend on liquor and birth control. That’s one way to interpret the message from a provocative new ad campaign in Colorado. Not everyone is thrilled with it. In a federal hearing in October, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., showed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius one of the ads (Whitney, 11/24).

The Hill: Chief Of Hawaii's O-Care Exchange To Resign
The official charged with launching Hawaii's troubled ObamaCare insurance exchange will resign next month, according to multiple reports. Coral Andrews, the executive director of Hawaii Health Connector, is the first marketplace director to leave her post since Oct. 1, when the exchanges launched. The Hawaii Health Connector went live on Oct. 15 due to software problems and had only enrolled 257 people in its first month of operation, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Andrews will reportedly depart on Dec. 6 and be replaced on an interim basis by Tom Matsuda, who headed up ObamaCare's implementation in the state (Viebeck, 11/22).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Application Fairs Try To Jumpstart Ailing Health Exchange Enrollment
More than a dozen Cover Oregon staff in turquoise t-shirts dotted the hotel exhibition hall Sunday, calling numbers, helping people and directing traffic. Volunteer application assisters and agents staffed a ring of  tables helping people complete applications. Another group helped check whether applications were complete. The fairs are part of the exchange's backup plan after putting its website mostly on the shelf for repairs due to enrollment problems (Budnick, 11/24).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Keep These Tips In Mind While You Shop The Exchange
Save for another time the question of who in Congress thought a household earning three times the poverty rate could afford to devote 9.5 percent of income to health insurance premiums. Not to mention deductibles. What’s lost in all the furor over the federal and state health exchanges’ bumbled but very complicated rollout is this: There are some good deals in Oregon’s individual health insurance market for 2014 (Hunsberger, 11/23).

The Boston Globe: Snarls In Retooled Mass. Insurance Site
About 105,000 people who have state subsidized coverage, through a program called Commonwealth Care, must enroll in a new plan in the coming months, and many more people want to shop for insurance. As of Wednesday night, 23,275 people had completed applications, about twice the number at the end of October. Just 1,047 had selected a plan, the last step before paying and becoming fulling enrolled. The website is not yet accepting online payments. In the first days of troubleshooting the website, Connector spokespeople said that they were fixing relatively minor glitches and that some of the more significant problems were related to difficulty accessing the troubled federal data hub. But weeks later, many of the most common complaints are about the state website itself (Conaboy, 11/25). 

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