KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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State Marketplaces Prepare To Open Again On Saturday

Officials in a number of states say they are optimistic that their operations are ready, but some questions remain. In Minnesota, a new audit identifies problems with verifying customers' eligibility.

CQ Healthbeat: State Health Exchanges Emphasize Individual Help In Year Two
Directors of leading state insurance exchanges painted an upbeat picture of their upcoming open enrollment periods, saying Wednesday they’ve hired more customer service representatives, added storefront sites to provide personal assistance, tweaked websites to more easily connect visitors to insurance agents and made it easier for uninsured people to window shop for a plan. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, drew a sharp contrast to the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the health law’s coverage expansion emanating from Washington. (Reichard, 11/12)

The Associated Press: Audit Faults Minnesota Public Health Care Programs
Minnesota's Department of Human Services fails to adequately verify the eligibility of people who enroll in public health care programs through MNsure, the state's health insurance exchange, the state's legislative auditor reported Wednesday. The nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor found several instances where the department paid for benefits to people enrolled in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare who weren't eligible because their incomes were too high or other errors and suggested that the problem is widespread. (Karnowski, 11/12)

Minnesota Star Tribune: Report: Lax Screening Of MNsure Enrollees Cost Taxpayers Money
The audit looked at a sample of 193 people who enrolled in the programs between October 2013 and April 2014, and found that nearly 17 percent received wrong answers about the benefits they should receive. The report stoked partisan debate during a hearing near the State Capitol, where MNsure officials reported progress in preparing the health exchange website for open enrollment that starts Saturday. “We certainly found evidence that these errors were costing taxpayers money,” Cecile Ferkul, the deputy legislative auditor, said in an interview. (Snowbeck, 11/12)

The Wall Street Journal: New York State Website Gets A Reboot
New York state has revamped its long-outdated website, ny.gov, with an emphasis on making it more user-friendly. The new site features bright blue and gold boxes in place of the old dark navy background and long, confusing menu lists have been eliminated. (Wilson, 11/12)

The Associated Press: New York Health Exchange Premiums To Rise
Deductibles and co-payments will be flat but premiums will rise about 4.5 percent for individuals and families during the second year of New York's health exchange, according to state officials. Meanwhile, a nonprofit group's survey showed general satisfaction among those who got insurance the first year, though nearly one-fourth reported some difficulty getting accepted by doctors as a new patient. (11/12)

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Health Exchange Ready For Signups, Officials Say
Maryland's health insurance exchange has been tested and is ready for consumers to begin buying policies Saturday during the first enrollment fair of the season, according to Isabel FitzGerald, the state's information technology secretary brought in to ready the online portal. "The only thing left to do is go live on the 15th," she told the exchange board Wednesday during its last scheduled meeting before the new website's launch. (Cohn, 11/12)

Bloomberg: Obamacare’s Army Of Workers Learns To Cope With Setbacks
The questions kept coming up across Michigan as soon as the Supreme Court said it would take up a case that could reshape Obamacare by ending insurance subsidies in many states. Dizzy Warren, director of Michigan’s biggest health-care enrollment group, dealt with it in her presentation to health-care advocates last week in Detroit, then again on yesterday’s conference call with 57 workers: What do we do now? Her answer? “Keep calm and keep enrolling,” she said. (Wayne, 11/13)

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