KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Work To Clarify Enrollment Rules, Untangle Technical Problems

News outlets also report that states are still conducting outreach efforts and offering the latest tallies of people who are signing up as well as information about subsidies.   

Los Angeles Times: Covered California Q & A: Is Monday Still The Deadline To Enroll? 
Many Californians are confused by Obamacare, and news this week about changing enrollment deadlines may be giving people an even bigger headache. Here are some answers to common questions as the final days tick down for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (Terhune, 3/27).

The San Jose Mercury News: Covered California Clarifies Health Plan Enrollment Rules Before Monday's Deadline
California's health insurance exchange on Wednesday announced the process for people who are trying to enroll, but fail to complete their application for a plan by Monday's deadline. The clarification followed formal guidance issued by the Obama administration earlier Wednesday indicating that the federal government would provide consumers a "limited amount of additional time to finish the application and enrollment period." To qualify for the extension, consumers will only have to attest that they started the process before the deadline. But the administration's extension applies only to people using the website in 36 states, which does not include California. Covered California on Wednesday outlined a specific procedure that consumers must follow to be eligible to finish their application by April 15 (Seipel, 3/27).

The Wall Street Journal: In New Jersey, A Dash To The Health-Care Deadline
Gov. Chris Christie has made no secret of his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, calling it a "failed federal program" and receiving sustained applause after criticizing it at several town-hall events across New Jersey. Yet in the final days of Affordable Care Act enrollment, a band of liberal activists, community groups and Democratic politicians is trying to prove him wrong, finishing a six-month crusade to drive citizens to the marketplace. They have enlisted U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who spoke behind an army of volunteers in Montclair, and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who lobbied the Latino community in Union City (Dawsey, 3/27).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Oregon Extends Deadline For Buying Health Insurance
The website, which opened for enrollment in October, hasn’t been fully functioning. Although residents can apply online, the application must be processed manually by state workers. Still, more than 50,000 people have been enrolled in a private insurance plan in Oregon and almost 123,000 people have been enrolled in the state’s Medicaid system (Corbett Dooren, 3/27).

The Associated Press: Arkansas Health Care Exchange Enrollment Falling Below Target
Arkansas officials say more than 33,500 people have signed up for the health insurance exchange set up under the federal health law, well below the numbers they hoped to see before the enrollment deadline next week. State officials on Thursday said the signup for the exchange, a marketplace where consumers can select health plans, has lagged in comparison to enrollments in the state's "private option" compromise Medicaid expansion (3/27).

The Seattle Times: As Health-Care Sign-Up Deadline Nears, 11,500 Mired In Glitches
As the March 31 deadline to sign up for 2014 health-insurance approaches, Washington state’s online exchange has enrolled more than 500,000 people in qualified plans or in Medicaid. The overwhelming majority of those enrollments were completed online smoothly, at least after the first tumultuous weeks of the exchange’s launch (Marshall, 3/27).

Health News Florida: Florida Subsidies Average $3,000
A new study finds that 90 percent of Floridians who are enrolling in health plans under the Affordable Care Act qualify for tax credits amounting to an average of almost $3,000 apiece. And yet only one in four Floridians who qualifies for a subsidy had enrolled in a plan by March 1, the study said (Gentry, 3/27).

The CT Mirror: Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Not Changing In Connecticut
The federal government announced earlier this week that people signing up for health care coverage through the exchanges it runs could get some extra time to enroll. But that doesn’t apply in Connecticut, which runs its own health insurance exchange, known as Access Health CT. That means that if you live in Connecticut and need private insurance for 2014, you have until the end of Monday to sign up (Becker, 3/27).

The CT Mirror: CT Obamacare Exchange Enrolling More Than 3,000 People Per Day
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange has been enrolling between 3,000 and 4,000 members per day as the sign-up deadline approaches, exchange CEO Kevin Counihan said Thursday. As of Wednesday afternoon, 178,601 state residents had signed up for Medicaid or private insurance through the exchange, Access Health CT. Of those, 62 percent, or 111,050, will receive Medicaid coverage. The other 67,551 signed up for private insurance. Among private insurance customers, 78 percent are receiving federal financial aid to pay their premiums (Becker, 3/27).

Georgia Health News: ‘Navigator’ Sees Rising Interest In ACA Enrollment
For the past several months, a normal Wednesday for Kimberly Jenkins has meant meeting with four to six people wanting to know about Affordable Care Act coverage. But as the enrollment deadline draws near, as many as 30 people a day are contacting Jenkins, seeking her help with insurance applications. She is what’s known as a health insurance “navigator” and is assigned to Wilkes and 11 other rural counties in northeast Georgia. “People like to wait until the last minute,” said Jenkins (Stafford, 3/27).

Health News Colorado: Exchange Pays Outside Lawyers Up To $575 An Hour
Managers at Connect for Health Colorado have used taxpayer dollars to pay several private lawyers’ fees as high as $575 an hour for legal work for the exchange. The exchange hired one of the lawyers, Mark Grueskin, to do research on a potential audit of the exchange. Grueskin testified in the Colorado Senate on Wednesday that the state auditor has no right under Colorado law to conduct a comprehensive audit on the taxpayer-funded exchange (McCrimmon, 3/27).

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