KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Some States Weighing Enrollment Extension

Several states that are running their own marketplaces and have experienced problems are considering allowing residents more time to sign up for insurance. Also, a number of local news outlets examine their states' enrollment totals released this week by HHS.

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: Facing Obamacare Enrollment Deadline, These States Are Pushing For More Time
As the Obama administration emphasizes the March 31 deadline to enroll in Obamacare health plans, some states running their own health insurance exchanges are weighing an extension of the enrollment period because of struggles signing people up for coverage. ... some states controlling their own insurance marketplaces have struggled with glitchy exchange websites the past five months of open enrollment and now want more time to get their residents covered (Millman, 3/11).

Los Angeles Times: Website Glitch Slows Obamacare In California
Enrollment in Obamacare coverage slowed last month in California, hurt by a recent website outage. New federal data show 868,936 Californians signed up for health insurance in the state's exchange through March 1. But that's a modest gain of about 40,000 people since mid-February. More than 100,000 people had picked a health plan during the first two weeks of February, according to the Covered California exchange (Terhune, 3/11).

The Associated Press: California Has Nearly 870,000 Health Care Sign-Ups
Nearly 870,000 Californians have signed up for an insurance policy through the state's health care exchange, the federal government reported Tuesday, as the state intensifies efforts to boost participation and target younger people ahead of the March 31 enrollment deadline. California leads the nation in enrollments, accounting for roughly 20 percent of all sign-ups across the country (Verdin, 3/11).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Not Attracting Younger Enrollees; Half Of Applicants Don't Sign Up
The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange is one of the worst in the country at attracting younger enrollees, according to a new federal report. Only 18 percent of those who've enrolled through the Oregon exchange fall between the ages of 18-34, a healthier age bracket considered crucial to keeping future premiums down. The age-related data for Oregon is available for the first time. The Oregon number, which ties with West Virginia as the nation's worst, falls well below the national average of 25 percent (Budnick, 3/11).

The Associated Press: Feb. Insurance Sign-Ups In Pa. Jump 30 Percent
The number of Pennsylvanians signing up for insurance under the 2010 federal health care law rose by 30 percent in February, reaching a total that is equal to one in 10 Pennsylvanians who were estimated to have been uninsured. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report Tuesday with the figures for all states through March 1 (Levy, 3/11).

Houston Chronicle: Texas Health Insurance Enrollment Numbers Lag As Coverage Deadline Nears
Data released Tuesday show hundreds of thousands more people bought coverage in the health insurance marketplace last month, but both state and national participation continues to lag original forecasts, and analysts doubt the government will hit its goals when enrollment closes at the end of the month (Hines, 3/11).

The Associated Press: Nearly 300,000 Texans Get New Health Insurance 
Fewer than 90,000 Texans bought health insurance through the new federally subsidized marketplace in the past month, leaving navigators, assisters and other officials working to enroll people with a hefty task as they near the March 31 deadline for open enrollment. Up until mid-March, some 295,025 Texans had purchased health insurance through President Barack Obama's signature overhaul program, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (Plushnick-Masti, 3/11).

Health News Florida: 442,000 In FL Enroll So Far
With less than three weeks left in open enrollment, 442,000 Floridians have enrolled in a health plan through the federal insurance marketplace, health officials reported Tuesday. And 83 percent of those who have enrolled in Florida received financial help in the form of tax credits, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (3/12).

The Associated Press: Va. Health Insurance Signups Meeting Projections
Virginia is meeting federal projections for enrollment in the Obama administration's health care program but still has a ways to go to reach the final target on March 31. Figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that 102,815 Virginians had enrolled by March 1. The government had projected 101,600 by Feb. 28 (3/11).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Health Care Insurance Enrollments Tops 100,000 In Virginia
Almost 103,000 Virginians have enrolled in health plans through the marketplace operated by the federal government, or 101.2 percent of the target of 101,600 set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to The Associated Press. Nationally, the federal and state marketplaces are lagging behind their target of about 5.7 million, with 4.2 million people signing up for coverage through the end of February. But in Virginia, one of 36 states that chose not to operate its own exchange, the totals represent a huge shift after the disastrous rollout of the federal marketplace in October and November, when just 4,000 people were able to enroll here (Martz, 3/11).

North Carolina Health News: Obamacare Enrollment In N.C. Among The Country's Strongest 
Enrollment in the online health care exchanges continues to be strong in North Carolina, as federal numbers reveal more than 200,000 people in the state have signed up for coverage provided as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Original projections were that about 191,000 people in North Carolina would sign up, but the February numbers put the total at about 40,000 beyond that (Hoban, 3/12).

The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Has 152,561 Enrollees; Not Clear How Many Were Uninsured
More than 150,000 Connecticut residents have signed up for private insurance plans sold through the state’s health insurance exchange and for Medicaid since Oct. 1, according to Access Health CT, the state’s exchange. Of the 152,561 enrollees, just under 40 percent -- 60,534 -- signed up for private insurance plans. The other 60 percent will receive Medicaid coverage. That balance is a reversal of the exchange’s early enrollment trends. Last fall, Connecticut was the only state in the country where more people had used the exchange to sign up for private insurance than Medicaid (Becker, 3/11).

The Arizona Republic: Affordable Care Act Sign-Ups Slowing, But Deadline Surge Expected
Arizona’s pace for Affordable Care Act sign-ups cooled in February as 14,116 residents selected a health-insurance plan, raising the state’s total to 57,611 with just weeks to go before enrollment ends. January enrollment was slightly more robust, with 15,552 Arizonans signing up for private health insurance through the federal marketplace, Nationwide, about 943,000 Americans signed up last month to bring the five-month total to more than 4.2 million (Alltucker, 3/11).

Georgia Health News: Exchange Enrollment Growth Slows In February
More than 38,000 Georgians signed up for coverage in the health insurance exchange in February, according to a federal report released Tuesday. That is slightly down from the number that enrolled the previous month. But the February enrollees represent a 37 percent increase from the total Georgia enrollment of 101,276 through January (Miller, 3/11).

Bangor Daily News: Maine Beats Affordable Care Act Enrollment Target
The number of Mainers signing up for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act dropped off in February, but far surpassed a federal enrollment goal as a March 31 deadline looms. From the Oct. 1 launch of through March 1, 25,412 Maine residents selected a private health plan through the federal government’s gateway for the marketplaces in Maine and 35 other states, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s up from 20,511 Mainers at the end of January, but a lag from the previous month’s sign-up rate. ... Maine, however, has emerged as a leader in health insurance enrollments compared to other states using The state beat not only the federal target of 18,400 enrollments by the end of February, but also outperformed, ahead of schedule, a goal of 23,000 enrollment by the end of the month (Farwell, 3/11).

And in news on Medicaid enrollment and the political fight for expansion of the program under the health law --

The Olympian: Wash. Medicaid Enrollment Surpasses Reform Goals
At least one part of health care reform has exceeded expectations in Washington state: Medicaid sign-ups since the state expanded eligibility for the safety-net program for low-income people. Washington health officials say 202,000 adults who became eligible for Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act have signed up as of March 1. That number is well above the state's goal of enrolling 136,220 people by April 1 (Gordon Blankinship, 3/11).

The Associated Press: In Reversal, Maine GOP Embraces Part Of Health Law
Maine Republicans who are fiercely fighting an effort to expand government-subsidized health care coverage to roughly 70,000 residents have come up with an alternative: government-subsidized health care. The lawmakers have long opposed President Barack Obama's signature health insurance law.

In related news --

Seattle Times: Push Is On To Woo Thousands Left As Obamacare Deadline Looms
There’s a growing urgency to get more Americans signed up for health insurance as the end of March and the deadline for open enrollment draw closer. By March 31, under the Affordable Care Act, U.S. residents will need to have health insurance or coverage through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid -- or face a potential penalty (Stiffler, 3/11).

Minnesota Public Radio: As Deadline Looms, MNsure CEO Answers Questions
MNsure's interim CEO Scott Leitz, speaking March 10th at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School and answering questions about problems and promise of Minnesota's health insurance exchange. March 31, 2014 is the enrollment deadline for the troubled program launched October 1, 2013 (3/11).

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