KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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States Scramble To Cajole, Entice and Pressure Insurers Back Into Marketplace

“There is a general feeling that we’re on the front lines,” says Julie Mix McPeak, Tennessee’s insurance commissioner.

The Wall Street Journal: States To Health Insurers: Please Come Back
Nevada officials were stunned last month to learn that Anthem Inc., the only insurer selling plans statewide through the insurance exchange, was planning to pull back next year, leaving consumers in most counties with no way to get plans under the Affordable Care Act. “It felt like a gut punch,” says Heather Korbulic, executive director of Nevada’s insurance exchange, where consumers buy ACA coverage online. When she learned of the situation from insurer filings, she says, she blurted out loud: “Holy shit, what are we going to do?” Nevada officials quickly began pushing to solve the problem. (Wilde Mathews, 7/14)

Seattle Times: Health Insurers Seek Double-Digit Rate Increases In Washington State — Despite Billion-Dollar Reserves | The Seattle Times
At the same time Regence is abandoning customers in Washington’s market for individual insurance, it is seeking rate increases in the state averaging 30 percent next year...Regence is not alone, according to filings with the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Premera Blue Cross has proposed 28 percent increases, on average, and reported a surplus of $1.5 billion at the end of 2016. Kaiser Permanente is asking for rate increases averaging 13 percent and had a $917 million surplus. Insurers say they need deep reserves in the event of unforeseen disaster. (Young, 7/16)

Denver Post: Colorado Health Insurers Seek 27 Percent Premium Hike
Colorado health insurers are asking to charge customers in the individual market nearly 27 percent more on average in premiums next year, the state Division of Insurance announced Friday. The division must still review and approve the requests — after receiving public comment. But insurers can back out of the market if the state doesn’t OK their premium hikes. (Ingold, 7/14)

Meanwhile, places that were finally finding their feet in terms of health care are worried they're going to be pushed back to the ground —

The Washington Post: In An Arid, Lonely Stretch Out West, The Health Coverage That Bloomed Is Now At Risk
In this speck of high desert, along a stretch of highway that Life magazine once called the loneliest road in America, the only doctor in town comes just one day a week. In the past few years, though, health insurance has arrived in force. The county that includes Silver Springs now has more than 3,500 additional residents on Medicaid, because Nevada’s governor was the first Republican in the country to expand the program through the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 1,400 others have private plans through the law and the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. (Goldstein, 7/16)

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