KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS Gives 7 States The Go-Ahead To Create Health Exchanges

So far, the Obama administration has approved the health exchange blueprints submitted by 17 states and the District of Columbia. And, the most recent set includes both red states, including Utah, and blue states.

Los Angeles Times: More States Cleared To Run Own Health Insurance Exchanges
The Obama administration Thursday cleared what could be the final group of states to open their own health insurance exchanges this fall, advancing a key goal of the 2010 health care law to provide Americans with new options to shop for coverage (Levey, 1/3).

The Washington Post: Plans For Health Insurance Exchanges Approved By White House For Seven More States
The Obama administration on Thursday approved plans by seven states to create health insurance exchanges, the new marketplaces at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. With this final round of approvals, the White House has signed off on blueprints by 17 states and the District to operate their own exchanges in 2014, as long as they continue to meet certain benchmarks over the course of the next year (Kliff, 1/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Seven States Clear Health-Exchange Hurdle
The Obama administration on Thursday gave conditional approval to plans by seven states that want to run their own health-insurance exchanges under the health-overhaul law. Among them was Utah, which already runs its own insurance exchange but would have to make significant changes to comply fully with the law, raising questions over whether the state will end up operating its exchange in October when open enrollment begins (Radnofsky, 1/3).

The Associated Press: Red States, Too, Get Health Care Nod From Obama
Injecting a rare shot of bipartisanship in the nation's contentious health care overhaul, the Obama administration Thursday cleared four Republican-led states to build their own consumer-friendly insurance markets. With open enrollment for millions of uninsured Americans just nine months away -- Oct. 1, 2013 -- the four GOP-led states became part of a group totaling 17 states plus Washington, D.C., that have gotten an initial go-ahead to build and run insurance exchanges. Another two states have gotten clearance to run their markets in partnership with the federal government. Seven were approved Thursday (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/3).

Reuters: U.S. Approves Health Exchanges In Four Republican-Governed States
U.S. officials on Thursday gave four states currently governed by Republicans the green light to set up their own health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama's health care reform law, an initiative largely opposed by Republicans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah joined a list totaling 17 states and the District of Columbia that have all won conditional approval to establish their own state exchanges, with operations set to begin on January 1, 2014. A fifth Republican-governed state, Mississippi, applied to operate a state exchange, but has not received approval because of a dispute about how much authority state officials should exercise over the operations of its prospective online marketplace, officials said (1/3).

CQ HealthBeat: HHS Conditionally Approves Seven State, One Partnership Exchange
Federal officials gave conditional approval on Thursday to Utah's health benefits exchange, even though state officials have sent mixed signals about whether they are willing to modify their current small business-only marketplace to meet all of the health law standards. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials also conditionally okayed six other state exchange plans and Arkansas' proposal to partner with the federal government on an exchange when the new marketplaces are set to begin operating in 2014 (Adams, 1/3).

USA Today: Feds Approve Eight State Health Insurance Exchanges
The newly approved states that will run their own exchanges are California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah. Arkansas will partner with the federal government for its exchange. Although states with Republican governors have fought the law, such as Texas, four of them -- Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah -- have created the exchanges (Kennedy, 1/3).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: GOP-Led Utah Gets Thumbs Up From HHS
The Obama administration's announcement Thursday that it has given Utah a conditional okay to run its own state health insurance marketplace came as a surprise to many exchange watchers. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, had resisted making major changes to the state's existing market, which was built before passage of the health care law and is geared to small business (Galewitz, 1/3).

Politico Pro: HHS Says Utah Can Keep Its Exchange
HHS gave Utah conditional approval to run its own exchange Thursday afternoon, arguably marking the first major health care surprise of 2013. But Utah has some work to do before it receives final approval. The state’s existing small business exchange -- known as Avenue H -- will have to add individual coverage and make other adjustments to satisfy Affordable Care Act requirements. "The state has given us a plan to do that, so like all of the states that we’re conditionally approving, there's more work to be done and we look forward to working with Utah," said CCIIO Director Gary Cohen on a Thursday afternoon conference call (Millman, 1/3).

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