KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

It’s Oct. 1 — Health Exchanges Go Live … Glitches And All

Despite three-and-a-half years of political intrigue and hijinx culminating with a government shutdown, this key health law provision is rolling out. Administration officials expected some glitches, but are confident in the marketplaces' ultimate success. However, if the exchanges are to achieve their intended goal, people will have to sign up.   

The Wall Street Journal: Muted Rollout For Much-Changed Health-Care Law
It's Oct. 1 and the Affordable Care Act is finally getting its rollout, but President Barack Obama's health-care law looks a lot different from the one he signed 31/2 years ago. Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, about half the states aren't participating in a Medicaid expansion that was a core part of the legislation. The federal government is running the bulk of new marketplaces for health insurance, not the states as originally envisioned. And some of the key provisions are delayed, including one that makes larger businesses pay a fine if they don't offer coverage (Radnofsky, 9/30).

Los Angeles Times: Full Steam Ahead For Obama Healthcare Law
Three and a half years after President Obama signed his landmark healthcare law, his administration made its final preparations Monday to begin enrolling millions of Americans in health insurance amid persistent anxiety over possible technical problems and intense opposition from Republican critics. Administration officials emphasized that a government shutdown would not prevent the federal website for enrolling in health coverage — — from going live at 8 a.m Eastern time Tuesday, allowing consumers to begin signing up for plans (Levey, 9/30).

NBC News: Glitches Or Not, Some Are Just Happy To See Health Exchanges Go Live
The debate over the Affordable Care Act may have (nearly) shut down federal government spending, but the new health-insurance websites are scheduled to be up and running as planned Tuesday morning. However, "as planned" doesn’t mean enrollment will go smoothly. Maryland's site for enrolling people crashed early Tuesday morning. "Please visit the site again at 12 noon," the site advised. Supporters and opponents alike of the health-care reform law, known widely as Obamacare, say to expect more ups and downs during the enrollment process. ...  Supporters and opponents alike of the health-care reform law, known widely as Obamacare, say to expect ups and downs during the enrollment process. There have already been some, from a computer jam in Washington, D.C.'s exchange to a delay in the plan for small business enrollment. It’s one of the reasons the federal government has set a six-month enrollment period. It isn’t going to be easy (Fox, 10/1).

The Associated Press: Health Insurance Marketplaces Open For Coverage, But Their Success Remains Far From Assured
The online insurance marketplaces at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul are showing signs of trouble handling the volume of consumers on the first day of a six-month open enrollment period.For nearly every state using the federal exchange, users on Tuesday reached a page with a notification to please wait or a message that said: “The System is down at the moment (10/1).

The Associated Press: Under Fire, 'Obamacare' Going Live – With Glitches
Contentious from its conception, President Obama’s health care law has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and rounds of budget brinkmanship. Now comes the ultimate test: the verdict of the American people. A government shutdown could dampen the rollout today as insurance markets open across the country. But it won’t stop the main components of "Obamacare" from going live as scheduled, glitches and all (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/1).

The Washington Post: As Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Moves Forward
The day has arrived when millions of uninsured Americans have their first chance to sign up for what the administration says will be high-quality, affordable health coverage. That achievement is something presidents of both parties sought unsuccessfully for more than 60 years. The coming months and years will show whether the new health-care law, commonly known as Obamacare, lives up to its aspirations. Those who sign up now, for instance, will not begin to receive benefits until January (Tumulty, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Exchanges Open For Business
New marketplaces meant to steer millions of uninsured Americans to health insurance under President Barack Obama's signature health-care law open for business today. After a weeks long scramble by state and federal officials to iron out technical wrinkles and position thousands of outreach workers, the marketplaces are set to launch, warts and all, giving the public a first taste of the health law's core provisions (Weaver, 10/1).

Politico: Obama: Expect Months Of 'Glitches'
President Barack Obama on Monday said he "absolutely" expects glitches and problems with Obamacare as enrollment kicks off Tuesday. But even with the inevitable complications and issues that accompany the new health insurance exchanges, the president told NPR News he is "confident" the law will offer "the prospect that any American out there who does not currently have health insurance can get high-quality health insurance" (Weinger, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Agencies Set To Implement Health Law, Shutdown Or No
A Department of Health and Human Services memo says staffers helping to get the Affordable Care Act off the ground won't be furloughed along with other federal workers. That includes employees who are helping with "coordination between Medicaid and the Marketplace, as well as insurance rate reviews," according to the memo. Although Congress is fighting about funding for the law known as Obamacare, a government shutdown wouldn't actually stop the law from being implemented Tuesday. That's because the principal funding for the Affordable Care Act comes from mandatory spending rather than a short-term extension to discretionary spending that Congress is considering now (Schatz, 9/30).

Reuters: Obamacare Launch Poised To Reach Millions Despite Shutdown Drama
Millions of Americans will learn on Tuesday what President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law actually means for them, as the administration opens new insurance marketplaces in 50 states despite the government shutdown. The launch marks a milestone for Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, which aims to provide subsidized healthcare to millions of the uninsured, the most ambitious U.S. social program since Medicare was introduced in the 1960s (Morgan, 10/1).

The Boston Globe: Tarnished By Shutdown Battle, Health Law Moves Ahead
Americans lacking health insurance will be able to sign up for coverage beginning Tuesday, federal officials say, despite Tea Party Republicans' efforts to torpedo President Obama's health care law or cripple its implementation. But the debut of the health insurance marketplaces — a critical component of the law that mandates most Americans obtain insurance by January — has been tarnished, politically and practically, by the threat of a government shutdown. Consumer advocates and health policy experts say recent talk of a shutdown has stirred up even more consumer confusion over an already controversial law. They fear that the added uncertainty will deter people from signing up for health insurance (Jan, 10/1).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Markets Debut As Early Hurdles May Slow Signups
The three-year effort to open the Obamacare health-insurance exchanges culminates today, beset by logistical delays and efforts by Republicans to shut down the U.S. government in protest. Even states that have cooperated with the rollout, designed to enroll the uninsured in health plans, are downplaying the debut of the marketplaces to avoid having the websites and call centers overwhelmed (Wayne and Nussbaum, 10/1).

Fox News: Age Of Obamacare Begins: Launch To Test Claims Of Law’s Supporters, Foes
The sales pitches for and against ObamaCare have all been made. It’s now up to Americans to judge whether the law works as advertised, as the so-called insurance "exchanges" launch Tuesday. Against the backdrop of the aggressive congressional showdown over ObamaCare -- and partial shutdown of the federal government -- Tuesday is the day that Americans can finally log on to the insurance-purchasing websites to take a test drive and decide for themselves (10/1).

CBS News: Obamacare Kicks Off: What's Happening, What's Not
Many Obamacare changes have already gone into effect, while other major reforms remain on the horizon. In the past three years, the Obama administration and Congress have modified the law, scrapping some major parts and delaying others. Republicans, meanwhile, have remained focused on dismantling the law in any way possible. With so many moving parts, it's worth reviewing what happens on Oct. 1 and what doesn't (Condon, 10/1).

Kaiser Health News also provides a resource page designed to help you navigate your way around what the new health law will mean for you, your family and what health care -- and insurance -- will cost you.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.