KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Exchange News: Oregon’s ‘Epic Failure’; Kansas’ Next Steps On Canceled Policies; Rural Challenge In Minnesota

In addition, a Colorado lawmaker is fuming over "racy" ads to promote the state health insurance exchange.

Politico: Oregon’s Obamacare Sign-Up Is An ‘Epic Failure’
Oregon once led the country in implementing Obamacare. Now it’s just about dead last. Not one person has yet enrolled in the Cover Oregon insurance exchange — a major embarrassment to state policymakers who early on had wholeheartedly embraced the Affordable Care Act even as other states tried their best to hinder it. ... The uncertainty is leading to fears that Oregonians whose plans have been canceled as of Dec. 31 will find themselves without affordable coverage when the new year begins (Winfield Cunningham, 11/26).

Earlier, related KHN story: Oregon Shines On Medicaid, As Texas Stalls On Sign-Ups (Foden-Vencil and Feibel, 11/14)

The Associated Press: Hearing Focuses On Health Care In Rural Georgia
Emma Collins, a licensed massage therapist from Ellijay, was hopeful about the new federal health care law after struggling in recent years to find insurance coverage because her artificial heart valve is considered a pre-existing condition. Then Collins said she began researching plans for her and her family and realized the costs would simply be too much to cover everyone. ... The hearing was largely critical of the law and President Barack Obama. A small group of activists attended the meeting in the hopes of being able to testify about the need for Medicaid expansion in Georgia (Cassidy, 11/25).

The Associated Press: Kansas Legislators Hear Health Care Update
A Kansas insurance department official said that the agency is working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas to provide guidance for continuing coverage for some 10,000 policies that previously were canceled because they wouldn't have conformed to the federal health care law. Linda Shepherd, the health policy director for Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, told a legislative oversight committee Monday that Blue Cross would renew the policies for one year for customers who still want them and was working to get the policies reviewed and in place (Milburn, 11/26).

Minnesota Public Radio: Efforts Increase To Get Rural Latinos To Sign Up For MNSure
Around the state, advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to inform hard-to-reach populations about MNsure and the opportunity to obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act. But getting the message to Latinos can be especially challenging without help from trusted community organizations -- especially in rural Minnesota. "When folks are already feeling like they can't access services or things are hard to come by for them, they're going to come to folks that they trust, not a new structure or a new website," said Mandile, executive director of HealthFinders, a nonprofit with community health clinics (Baier, 11/26).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Exchange Boss Wants Pay Hike
Patty Fontneau, the CEO and executive director of Colorado’s health exchange, has asked for a raise and could receive a pay hike plus a bonus by year’s end. Any debate over Fontneau’s salary will happen behind closed doors. A spokeswoman for the exchange said executives requested that any compensation discussions happen in executive session. Those sessions are not open to the public, but Fontneau’s salary and any increases will be public. Colorado’s exchange board meets today, but it’s unclear how soon they’ll review Fontneau’s performance (Kerwin McCrimmon, 11/25).

Health Policy Solutions
(a Colo. news service): Racy Ads Rile Lawmakers
A Colorado lawmaker has threatened legislation to clamp down on Colorado’s health exchange after a partner’s racy ad campaign went viral around the U.S. Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, attacked a social media campaign launched by the liberal group, Progress Now, and health advocates at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (Kerwin McCrimmon, 11/25).

Related KHN story: Sex Sells … Health Insurance? (Whitney, 11/24)

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