KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Cover Oregon Gets New Chief; Mass. Health Law Garners Support

Reports examine exchange developments in Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington and Connecticut.

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Selects Next Director, Aaron Patnode
The Cover Oregon board on Thursday authorized the hiring of a new executive director, Aaron Patnode, to lead the exchange even as it lays off employees and contemplates an uncertain future. In its Thursday board meeting, the board voted unanimously to negotiate a contract with Patnode, 35, a Kaiser Permanente manager. His salary has not been finalized but could reach as high as $225,000 (Budnick, 6/13).

The Oregonian: John Kitzhaber Holds Commanding Lead Over Dennis Richardson Despite Cover Oregon Damage, KATU Poll Says
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber would win an unprecedented fourth term by beating Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, 48 to 35 percent if the election was held today, a new poll released Thursday from KATU shows. A fifth of likely voters, however, blame Kitzhaber entirely for the botched rollout of the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange, with 19 percent saying he deserves most of the blame and 37 percent saying he deserves some of the blame (Zheng, 6/13).

The Boston Globe: Poll Finds Enduring Support For Mass. Health Law
The strong public support for the Massachusetts health care law has not wavered, despite the well-publicized troubles of the state’s new health insurance website, a new poll has found. Sixty-three percent of adults said they support the law, which is intended to ensure that almost everyone has health insurance — the same percentage as in a similar survey conducted in 2011. Both polls were conducted by the Boston Globe and the Harvard School of Public Health (Freyer, 6/16).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Obamacare Credited For Big Drop In Minnesota’s Uninsured Rate
The website malfunctioned. The exchange chief was fired. And many people had to sign up the old fashioned way: pen, paper, with a person. So, Minnesota’s launch of the Affordable Care Act was a clear failure, right? Not so much. A less modest state might call it the Minnesota Miracle: The rate of uninsured people in Minnesota tumbled to less than 5 percent, despite all the problems with its Obamacare website, a new study shows (Stawicki, 6/16).

Pioneer Press: Minnesota Slows Transfer Of Public Health Coverage To MNsure
Minnesota officials have slowed a massive transition of public insurance beneficiaries to the new MNsure system, but say the health insurance exchange still will meet projections for 1.3 million enrollees by 2016. As of May, the exchange had enrolled more than 200,000 in public and private health insurance -- less than one-fifth of the long-term projection for coverage through MNsure. One key to bridging the gap is helping about 800,000 people renew their current public health insurance coverage through MNsure, said Lucinda Jesson, a MNsure board member who also is the state's human services commissioner (Snowbeck, 6/13).

Reuters: Connecticut Health Exchange Seeks To Help Customers After Data Breach
Access Health Connecticut, the state health exchange created for the federal Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, on Friday gave options to help nearly 400 customers protect themselves after their personal information was compromised last week. Those options include credit monitoring, fraud resolution services, identity theft insurance, and security freezes of credit reports, said Kathleen Tallarita, government and public affairs outreach manager for Access Health CT. The exchange “sent a priority-overnight letter to 395 individuals to inform them of the situation, and offer a series of remedies, at no cost to them,” she said (Weizel, 6/15).

Vox: Washington State Loves Obamacare — And Still Has Challenges Making It Work
By nearly any metric, Washington had one of the most successful Obamacare launch. Unlike or neighboring Oregon's failed marketplace, the state exchange ran smoothly within days of going live. ... Washington has enrolled 32 percent of residents eligible for private coverage through the exchange, putting it among the top ten states in terms of reach. ... At the same time, there is still frustration (Kliff, 6/15).

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