KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Continue To Wrestle With Health Law Implementation Issues

Even as an Arkansas effort by a private group to block the health law appears to be falling short, states like Missouri continue to contemplate expanding Medicaid, and, in California, the health exchange experiences growing pains.

The Hill: Study: ObamaCare Benefit Mandates Pose Few Problems For States, Insurers
Adopting new benefit mandates under ObamaCare will not require major changes or cost increases, according to a study released Wednesday. Researchers at The Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said the states they surveyed are generally on track to enforce new requirements that insurers cover certain services (Baker, 8/14).

The Associated Press: Ark. Group Falls Short In Health Law Repeal Effort
A group pushing for a repeal of Arkansas' plan to use Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents won't have enough signatures to put the insurance expansion before voters next year, the head of the campaign said Wednesday. The chairman of Arkansans Against Big Government said the group had collected more than 26,000 signatures from registered voters — far short of the 46,880 needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot. Thursday is the deadline to submit signatures for the proposal (Demillo, 8/14).

St. Louis Beacon: Supporters Of Medicaid Expansion Pack State House Hearing
One by one they came to sit in front of the special House committee to deliver their three-minute remarks. Most had same message: Expand Missouri's Medicaid program. The lopsided testimony came from dozens of health-care professionals, civic activists and ordinary residents during Wednesday's daylong hearing of the Interim Committee on Citizens & Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform (Mannies, 8/14).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Suggestions Flow As Missouri Legislators Weigh Options For Medicaid
Give patients with chronic diseases a health care team. Monitor a state database to spot abuse of prescription drugs. Reward pregnant teens who keep their doctor appointments. Those were among the many suggestions that flowed Wednesday to a Senate committee examining ways to improve the quality and efficiency of Medicaid, the joint state and federal health care program for the poor (Young, 8/15).

California Healthline: Why One Insurer Quit Covered California
Ventura County Health Care Plan administrators won't soon forget May 23, 2013. That was the day that Covered California announced that VCHCP -- a small, county-run plan -- would join Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and 10 other insurers in next year's marketplace. … But 10 weeks later, Covered California has signed contracts with a dozen insurers -- and Ventura County Health Care Plan isn't one of them. Instead, the plan announced last week that it had withdrawn from the health benefits exchange for next year; a terse press release alluded to "ongoing analysis of enrollment projections, start-up costs and certain factors whose outcome and impact are difficult to predict" (Diamond, 8/14).

California Healthline: Questions, Concerns Greet Exchange Leaders At S.F. Town Hall Meeting
Dozens of outreach events are planned throughout the state leading up to the exchange's first day of business about six weeks from now. One of the first town hall meetings Friday at the UC-San Francisco Mission Bay campus attracted hundreds of people who packed a large room and filled out cards with questions about how the Affordable Care Act will be implemented in California. "You are a part of making history because the questions you ask are questions that hundreds of other Californians have," said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California.  Lee said the meeting, and others like it to come, are intended to spread the word and clear up any confusion about how the ACA affects people (Hart, 8/14).

The Oregonian: Oregon Insurance Officials Looking Into Feds' Delay Of Health Coverage Limit
On Tuesday The New York Times broke the news that some insurers will be given an extra year to comply with new federal health coverage rules that limit people’s spending on medical bills. In Oregon officials aren't sure whether anyone will be affected by the newly disclosed exception to the federal rules for 2014 (Budnick, 8/14).

CT Mirror: Health Insurance Coverage Is Expanding. So Are Free Clinics
Karen Gottlieb says she shares a dream with everyone else who runs a free clinic. … People who work in free clinics -- "the safety net below the safety net," Gottlieb calls them -- take it as a given that many of their patients will still be without insurance after Jan. 1, when, as part of Obamacare, Medicaid eligibility will be expanded, coverage sold through a new private insurance marketplace will take effect, and nearly all Americans will be legally required to have health care coverage (Becker, 8/14).

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