Exchange News: Md. To Stagger Rollout; Vt. Temporarily Shuts Website
Maryland officials are planning a gradual rollout of the state's health insurance website to avoid problems, and Vermont officials cite security concerns as part of the reason for taking down Health Connect. Developments in Minnesota, Connecticut and Oregon are also covered.
The Washington Post: Md. To Stagger Access To Health Exchange Web Site To Address Any Technical Flaws
Maryland officials want to limit access to the state’s new health insurance Web site when it launches in November so that any glitches can be worked out and the system won’t be overwhelmed with requests. The state’s staggered approach is different from what will happen elsewhere in the country on Nov. 15, the beginning of the second enrollment period for health insurance made possible by the federal Affordable Care Act. Advocates raised concerns Tuesday that the unusual schedule planned for Maryland could further muddle an already confusing process (Johnson, 9/16).
The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Health Exchange To Have Staggered Rollout
The gradual rollout will start with a preview Nov. 9, a week before open enrollment officially begins, when people will be able to browse health plans — something users couldn't do last year without creating an account. A week later, on Nov. 15, the first sign-up event will be held at which people can enroll at a designated location that has not yet been identified. The next day the call center will begin operations so people can enroll via phone (Dresser, McDaniels and Cohn, 9/16).
Burlington Free Press: VT Health Connect Website Shut Down For Repairs
Anyone clicking on the Vermont Health Connect website sees a message in bold black letters on a pale green screen that advises the site is down for maintenance. This will be more than a short-term shut down, Gov. Peter Shumlin and his top health officials explained Tuesday. It could be weeks before health insurance customers would be able to resume buying plans, check accounts or pay electronically on Vermont Health Connect. In the interim, all Health Connect related transactions will be handled by call center personnel (Remsen, 9/16).
Vermont Public Radio: Vermont's Health Exchange Site Is Offline For Repairs
At a news conference announcing the decision, officials repeatedly cited security concerns as part of the rationale for taking Vermont Health Connect offline, but they insisted that the move was preemptive and not a response to a security breach. Shumlin said the move should not affect the coverage Vermonters have through the exchange – only how they interact with Vermont Health Connect (Dobbs, 9/16).
Minnesota Public Radio: PreferredOne pulls out of MNsure
The insurer with the lowest rates and most customers on Minnesota's health care exchange is pulling out. Golden Valley-based PreferredOne this morning confirmed its exit from MNsure. It comes as a major blow to the exchange — the next open enrollment period starts Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15. MNsure officials said the online insurance exchange would reach out soon to PreferredOne customers who bought coverage through MNsure last year with information on next steps (Sepic and Crann, 9/16).
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Johnson Blasts Dayton As 'Incompetent' As Top-Selling Insurer Exits MNsure
Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson blasted Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday for what he called "breathtaking incompetence," after it was revealed that the insurance company that sold more policies on MNsure than any other is pulling out of the exchange. MNsure officials confirmed Tuesday that PreferredOne, the choice of nearly six in 10 consumers who have bought plans on the exchange, would no longer participate. Insurers are expected to release their 2015 MNsure rates in early October (Condon, 9/16).
CT Mirror: Access Health Plans Much Smaller Enrollment Assistance Effort This Time
To reach Connecticut’s remaining uninsured and help existing customers maintain their coverage when the second Obamacare enrollment period begins in two months, Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is planning an in-person outreach effort that’s a fraction of last year’s nearly $3 million sign-up blitz. Critics say it's inadequate for ensuring that Connecticut continues to reduce the number of uninsured residents, while a top exchange official says it's appropriately targeted (Levin Becker, 9/17).
Oregonian: Oracle America Accuses Oregon Of Violating Federal Copyright Law In Health Exchange Fight
In the legal fracas over the Cover Oregon health exchange, software giant Oracle America is seeking help from an unlikely source to bolster its case against the state: The U.S. Copyright Office. On Sept. 8, the firm applied for federal copyright protection for the latest version of software products it sold to Oregon as part of the insurance exchange system. Within hours, the giant technology firm filed an amended complaint in federal court accusing Oregon of copyright infringement (Budnick, 9/16).
Modern Healthcare: ACA Co-Op Plans Retool For 2015 Open Enrollment
Many consumer-governed insurance plans that struggled to attract customers during the first year of open enrollment are aggressively pricing and retooling products to be more competitive when the exchanges re-open for business on Nov. 15 (Demko, 9/16).
In other health law enrollment news -
NBC News: Report: Asian-American ACA Enrollment ‘Disproportionately High’
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress and AAPIData, Asian Americans were the most likely of all Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). About 5.5 percent of the people who signed up for the first round of the Affordable Care Act were Asian American, more than the 5.1 percent of the population which was uninsured in 2012. In California, 21 percent of enrollees were Asian Americans, nearly double the 10.8 percent who were uninsured. In Washington, 10.3 percent of enrollees were Asian Americans, also higher than 7.4 percent who were uninsured (Kai-Hwa Wang, 9/16).