Insurance Exchanges Become Health Law Opponents’ Latest Target
Also in the news, the latest developments from California, Mississippi, Vermont, Kansas, Minnesota and New Hampshire regarding the law's online insurance marketplaces.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Health Law Critics Seek to Gut Program by Undermining Exchanges
Opponents of President Barack Obama's health-care law are gearing up for a new round of attacks, this time targeting the legislation's insurance exchanges that would expand coverage to millions of Americans. Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, and the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks will push Congress to cut off funding for the exchanges in the debate later this year over raising the debt ceiling, the Washington-based groups said. The chairman of the advocacy group Restore America's Voice, Ken Hoagland, said he plans to warn people through advertising about the "dysfunctional" exchanges (Pettypiece and Salant, 5/28).
Los Angeles Times: Insurers Limit Doctors, Hospitals In State-Run Exchange Plans
California's health insurance rates for a new state-run marketplace came in lower than expected this week, but one downside for many consumers will be far fewer doctors and hospitals to choose from. People who want UCLA Medical Center and its doctors in their health plan network next year, for instance, may have only one choice in California's exchange: Anthem Blue Cross. Another major insurer in the state-run market, Blue Shield of California, said its exchange customers will be restricted to 36% of its regular physician network statewide (Terhune, 5/24).
The Associated Press: Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney Fears Some Won't Get Insurance
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says he fears some people won't be able to get health insurance when enrollment under the federal law opens in October. The Affordable Care Act was designed to provide affordable health insurance coverage to Americans regardless of income. Open enrollment programs under the act starts in October. Chaney told the Vicksburg Post that confusion over plans, coverages and rates during the enrollment period could discourage some from getting insurance. "I'm afraid some of the programs may cost too much or people will get upset over the process and not get coverage," he said (5/27).
CQ HealthBeat: On Exchanges: Vermont Insurance Regulator Turns Down Co-Op Application
A Vermont health cooperative has been denied a license to sell insurance in the state and in its planned health insurance exchange, following a state regulator's skeptical assessment that alleged conflicts of interest and predicted financial losses. The order issued Wednesday by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation on an application by the Vermont Health CO-OP said that the federally backed operation faced "an extremely high risk of insolvency," based on financial projections (Norman, 5/24).
Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Insurers Gearing Up To Market New Plans On Exchange
Kansas insurance companies are preparing to sell a range of health plans on a new, online insurance exchange being created by the federal government in an effort to make coverage more available to the thousands of people who have struggled to obtain it. The Affordable Care Act, often called "Obamacare," requires the new health insurance marketplaces to be up and running in every state by October, with the coverage sold through them effective on Jan. 1 (McLean, 5/27).
MPR News: Insurers Submit Plans To State To Join MNSURE
Some Minnesota insurers say consumers on average will see higher health plan premiums but also more generous benefits for policies sold on the state's new online insurance marketplace. Friday marked the deadline for insurers to submit their plans for state approval. Minnetonka-based Medica has submitted plans to sell on MNSURE's individual and small group markets, said spokesman Geoff Bartsh, but he would not divulge how many plans it will offer or what the premiums will cost (Stawicki, 5/26).
The Associated Press: Limited Insurance Options Beset N.H.'s Small Businesses
Consumer and small business advocates in New Hampshire are disappointed but not surprised that only one company plans to sell insurance through the new online marketplaces required under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Companies have until June 1 to submit applications to the state, but an official with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Hampshire said last week that it is the only insurer that has applied to sell either individual or small group plans through the new markets (5/28).