KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Americans’ Experience With Health Law Depends On Where They Live

Some states that embraced the law, such as Oregon, have had difficulty enrolling residents because of glitch-ridden online marketplaces, while others like New Hampshire have seen unexpectedly strong enrollments despite prevailing critical views.

NPR: Obamacare Rolls Into N.H. Like A Political Campaign — And Wins
Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or at least to begin the process. We already know that nationwide more than six million people have enrolled. But each state has its own insurance market and its own experience with the law. In New Hampshire, polls show the law is quite unpopular. ... And yet, enrollments in the state have greatly exceeded expectations (Keith, 3/31).

Los Angeles Times: States That Have Struggled With Healthcare Sites Consider Lawsuits
Enrollments in the nation's healthcare program have nearly concluded, but for states whose insurance exchanges have been crippled by technical problems, a difficult phase is just beginning: potential legal battles and a race to overhaul their systems before federal grant money dries up. Officials in Oregon, Massachusetts and Maryland are exploring legal options as they sever contracts with those who created their sites (Reston, 3/29).

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Grapples With Healthcare For Remaining Uninsured
One long period of Obamacare hand-wringing in Los Angeles County will end Monday, as the window for residents to enroll in mandatory healthcare coverage comes to a close. But less than 24 hours later, county elected officials will be confronted with another politically sensitive facet of the nation's healthcare overhaul: how to manage roughly a million people, many of them poor or undocumented, who will remain uninsured either because they aren't eligible or failed to enroll (Brown, 3/30).

Politico: Obamacare In Washington State: 'No Frills' Success
In contrast to the other Washington’s, this Washington’s Healthplanfinder has run fairly smoothly almost from the start. While programs elsewhere sputtered and the federal portal didn’t work at all, the state signed up more than one in every five Americans who enrolled in an Affordable Care Act plan during the first month. ... This land of a thousand baristas, high-tech giants and evergreen-scented landscapes designed a straightforward exchange, chose a contractor that delivered, and kept lawmakers, policymakers and advocates from getting in the way with their own priorities, no matter how attractive or well-meaning (Haberkorn, 3/31).

Politico: Obamacare In Oregon: A Failed Exchange
Oregon had all the right ingredients for a sparkling Obamacare success story: A Democratic doctor as governor, an eager legislature and a history of health care innovation. It ended up with Obamacare’s biggest technological disaster., the state’s equivalent of, is the only insurance exchange in the country where people still cannot buy coverage entirely online. ... The exchange board is hunting for its third leader since December (Haberkorn, 3/31).

Marketplace: Health Care Deadline Reveals State Disparities
Monday is the deadline to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, or risk paying a penalty. Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, says the way people are experiencing Obamacare varies across the country. Take Connecticut and Oregon, for example. Levitt says both states were enthusiastic about Obamacare, but the actual rollout in each state couldn’t be [more] different. He says for some states, it came down to how lucky they were in choosing a developer to build their online exchange. And Connecticut has a strong history of outreach to the public around health issues (Wilson, 3/31).

The Associated Press: Sebelius: Texas Opposition Hasn't Helped Sign-Ups
Political opposition in Texas to the federal health care overhaul hasn't helped enrollment numbers that lag behind expectations as next week's deadline to sign up looms, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. As of March 1, about 295,000 people in Texas had signed up for coverage — less than half of the target of 629,000 enrollees originally set by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Weber, 3/28).

The Associated Press: NY State Health Exchange Reports 782,000 Enrolled
With the 2014 enrollment deadline scheduled to fall at midnight Monday, the state Health Exchange says 1.13 million New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance though fewer than 800,000 have now enrolled for specific coverage (3/29).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Officials Weigh Pros, Cons Of Hiring New IT Contractor, Switching To Federal Exchange
Cover Oregon board members are set to decide in the coming weeks whether the state's troubled health insurance exchange can be rescued. Officials are weighing the benefits and drawbacks of three options: hiring a new information technology contractor, switching over to the federal government's health exchange or piggybacking on another state-based exchange. The goal is to find a technology solution that will allow Oregonians to enroll online once the 2015 open enrollment period begins Nov. 15 (Zheng, 3/29). 

The CT Mirror: At Obamacare Deadline, Rush To Enroll, Questions About What’s Next
The crowd at the Access Health CT store was so big Wednesday morning that Pedro Lopez decided to put off his plans to buy health insurance there for a few hours. But when he returned around lunchtime, the store -- run by Connecticut's health insurance exchange -- was still busy, filled with people trying to beat today's midnight insurance sign-up deadline. It had been more than a decade since Lopez had coverage, and the 43-year-old figured he could put it off a little longer. But as he turned to leave again, a buddy pointed out that if Lopez wanted insurance, he'd have to sign up by Monday (Becker, 3/31).

The San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare: Californians Flock To Community Centers, Libraries To Sign Up For Health Care
The last time Ileinna Jasso needed medical care, she went to an emergency room, emerging with a simple prescription for antibiotics -- and a $1,700 bill she couldn't afford. So the 20-year-old Gavilan College student was happy to wait in line Saturday to sign up for affordable health coverage at Berryessa Community Center, just two days before Monday's midnight deadline. More than 500 similar workshops to help people get their applications in on time are being held from Friday through Monday across California. They're drawing droves of people (Kaplan, 3/29).

The Arizona Republic: Some Specialty Care More Expensive Under ACA
[Pat Elliott] has discovered what many Affordable Care Act shoppers have learned: The least-expensive plans sold over the marketplace often limit the doctors and hospitals that consumers can choose to a narrow network of providers with whom insurance companies negotiate discounted rates. In metro Phoenix, some larger cancer and transplant hospitals don't participate in many marketplace plans at all. Elliott nearly selected a Cigna plan, only to learn her doctor wasn't in the network (Alltucker, 3/30).

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