KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Exchange Updates: Football Marketing, Slow Starts And Calif.’s Litmus Test

News outlets provide updates on state health insurance exchanges in Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota and California, the state that many believe will provide a litmus test on how, and if, the state-based exchanges can work elsewhere.

Bloomberg: Democratic Governor Beshear Says The U.S. Health Law Will Work
The U.S. health care law will work after the administration of President Barack Obama fixes the program's website, [Democratic] Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said. … Since opening for business Oct. 1, the Web portal to the federal exchange serving 36 states has been plagued by delays, error messages and hang-ups that have prevented customers from enrolling in a health insurance plan (Shield and Dougherty, 10/28).

The Baltimore Sun: State Insurance Exchange Paid Ravens $130K For Advertising
For $130,000, Maryland health officials are getting the word out on health reform to Ravens fans listening to the radio or visiting the team website. To catch the promotions in the stadium, though, don’t blink. Maryland Health Connection, the insurance marketplace created as part of federal health reform, is being featured in dozens of 30-second radio commercials, including one apiece on WBAL Radio and 98 Rock during each game broadcast (Dance, 10/25).

California Healthline: Exchange Officials Address 'Glitchy' Start
Covered California's board yesterday met for the first time and reviewed the Oct. 1 launch of the exchange. Across the country and in California many people were frustrated by long waits and some confusion with the rollout of the first six-month-long enrollment period. Given the size of the undertaking, some difficulty with the launch was to be expected, said board member Robert Ross. … Overall, given the high volume of interest in the exchange and the huge amount of information exchange workers were able to deliver, the launch did well, said Covered California executive director Peter Lee (Gorn, 10/25).

The San Jose Mercury News: Covered California's Executive Director Faces Fiery Test 
Now, Peter V. Lee, as executive director of Covered California, the state's new health exchange, has the daunting task of executing a key part of the new federal health care law in the nation's most populous state. And if the law succeeds here, many health care experts agree, it will likely succeed in other states. Lee, 54, is a man of boundless enthusiasm and passion for health reform who says he welcomes the challenge. Yet in the weeks since the Oct. 1 nationwide debut of the health exchanges, his critics say he too often has taken on a cheerleading role and downplays the problems facing Covered California (Seipel, 10/27).

The San Francisco Chronicle: State Health Care Website Recovering From Glitches
Since its debut Oct. 1, Covered California, the state's online marketplace developed independently of the federal government's site, experienced slowness in the early days, endured trouble with its online directory of doctors and hospitals, and had to be taken offline several times. But the state marketplace's woes are far less troubling than the problems that have plagued, which was so dysfunctional that most Americans have been unable to complete their applications through the site (Colliver, 10/25).

Minnesota Public Radio: Gov. Dayton Defends MNsure From Critics, Potential Challengers
MNsure is barely three weeks old, and, like President Obama, Gov. Mark Dayton has found himself defending the state's new health insurance marketplace against heavy criticism that their respective exchanges are not working. Compared to the federal insurance site that 36 states are using, Minnesota's homegrown exchange is in good shape, Dayton said recently. "Fortunately, we decided to go our own route in Minnesota and the Legislature has supported that," he told reporters. "I think the MNsure beginning has been not perfect. But given the complexity and scope of the project, I think it's performed phenomenally well” (Richert, 10/25).

State news outlets also report on the federal health exchange  -

WFAA: Thousands Line Up In Dallas For Health Insurance Info 
A statewide education and outreach event focusing on the new Affordable Care Act drew more than 10,000 people to the Dallas Convention Center on Saturday. The Be Covered Texas event was hosted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and more than 30 community partners to provide health services and health care information (Panicker, 10/26).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: User, Marketplace Website Face Off
Holly Phares was a mouse click away from becoming the first, and she was psyched. … Since the health-insurance marketplace opened Oct. 1, RHD has not enrolled one client using the federal website (Calandra, 10/27).

Miami Herald: As Obamacare Site Stalls, Consumers Get Dubious Pitches
"Obamacare Enrollment Center," announced the banner hanging from the pulpit. It even bore the "O" logo from President Obama's campaign. But the self-proclaimed "Obamacare Enrollment Team" that rolled into Florida's capital this week has no official connection with the president or his signature health law (Mitchell, 10/27).

Meanwhile, on the navigator front -

Georgia Health News: Insurance Industry Veteran Upbeat On Navigator Role
For Harold Weber, an Athens resident who worked in the health insurance industry for 30 years, the most important aspect of the Affordable Care Act is its approach. Weber watched the rise and fall of HMO plans in the 1990s and believes the ACA will finally succeed where others failed. "The unaffordable aspect of insurance is never going to go away," he said. "It took longer than we thought, but we're facing this question again." That's why he applied to be one of Georgia's 100 ACA health care navigators. He wants to be part of the solution (Crist, 10/26).

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