KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Releases Ads For Insurance Marketplace; Aetna Leaves N.Y. Exchange

Many of the California advertisements will be in Spanish to persuade consumers unfamiliar with the law to sign up, the Los Angeles Times reports. Meanwhile, Aetna did not give many details about its decision to not compete in New York's exchange.

Los Angeles Times: California Unveils Ads For New Health Insurance Market
The state faces the daunting challenge of trying to reach more than 5 million people who are uninsured or don't receive health insurance at work. Now officials are preparing to advertise on television and radio, in print and online — much of it in Spanish — to persuade consumers unfamiliar with the federal health law to sign up. The state is purposefully avoiding Hollywood stars in its opening sales pitch. Instead, the state's ads revolve around people worrying about getting care and paying their medical bills in hopes that those stories will counter persistent political attacks and widespread confusion about the Affordable Care Act (Terhune and Gorman, 8/29).

Reuters: Aetna Pulls Out Of Another Obamacare Health Exchange
Aetna Inc has decided not to sell insurance on New York's individual health insurance exchange, which is being created under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, the fifth state where it has reversed course in recent weeks. The third-largest U.S. health insurer has said it is seeking to limit its exposure to the risks of providing health plans to America's uninsured, but did not give details about its decision to pull out of specific markets. ... Aetna and its newly acquired Coventry Health unit, a low-cost provider that caters to individuals and Medicaid beneficiaries and provides private Medicare policies, still have applications to sell coverage in 10 states, based on publicly available information (Humer, 8/29).

In other state exchange news -

The Associated Press: Health Exchange Board Delays Vote On Plans Again
The board for the [Washington] state health exchange on Thursday once again delayed a vote on approval of 31 plans proposed to be part of the system. After previously delaying a vote last week, the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange voted 6-2 to delay the final vote until next Wednesday, to coincide with an already scheduled meeting to consider additional companies that are appealing exclusion by Washington's insurance commissioner (La Corte, 8/30).

Seattle Times: State Board Delays Certifying Exchange Health Plans
"We don't need to rush a vote today," Teresa Mosqueda told fellow board members. Mosqueda, legislative and policy director of the Washington State Labor Council and chairwoman of the Healthy Washington Coalition, warned that if the board proceeded with certification Thursday, some members might vote against certifying plans already approved by the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) because they believe those that were rejected have not received a full hearing (Snow Landa, 8/29).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: HHS Will Allow 'Unbanked' People To Use Prepaid Debit Cards On Exchanges
At the urging of advocates for low-income consumers, the Obama administration said Wednesday that it is moving ahead with a rule requiring health plans accommodate households that do not have traditional bank accounts. One in four of the uninsured eligible for federal insurance subsidies does not have a bank account, according to a report released earlier this year by the tax preparation firm Jackson Hewitt (Varney, 8/29).

The Associated Press: Ready Or Not, Health Law Outreach Training Begins
It wasn't easy writing the training program for the 800 outreach workers who will help Illinoisans sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama's health law. Washington was still shaping the regulations. Illinois lawmakers were still amending bills. Then the Obama administration delayed part of the law affecting some businesses. Every change meant more revisions. All the moving parts made it a challenge, but so far everyone who has taken the course has passed the test required for certification, said Elizabeth Calhoun, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor who led the effort under a $910,000 contract between the university and the state (8/30).

Also in state health law news -  

Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Lawmakers Urged To Consider Medicaid Expansion
The chief executive of one of the state's largest medical centers this week urged Kansas legislators to consider expanding eligibility for the state's Medicaid program. The original intent of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was that all states would expand their Medicaid programs effective Jan. 1, 2014 to include all adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines (Ranney, 8/29).

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