KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Exchanges Report Sign-Up Successes

Although may be barely limping along, some state health insurance exchanges are completing applications and signing up thousands. News outlets also offer other developments related to the marketplaces in Kentucky, Connecticut, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Georgia and Maryland.

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: The Obama Administration Projected 500,000 Obamacare Sign-Ups This Month. Can That Still Happen?
We don't know, at this point, how many people have signed up for health insurance through Because the site has been very difficult to use, the assumption is not many. One outside estimate pegs the number around 36,000. That's for 34 states that tend to have the highest uninsured rates. That's not so great. But that's not the story in Washington, where more than 25,000 applications for private insurance have been completed, and another 20,000 or so for Medicaid. And it’s not the case in New York, which has had 40,000 such applications come in. In Kentucky, Washington, Minnesota and a handful of other states running their own marketplaces, they've seen thousands signing up this month (Kliff, 10/17).

Modern Healthcare: Kentucky's Exchange Doing Well Despite Using Same Contractor As The Feds
Some observers have blamed the federal government's prime contractor, CGI Federal, for the severe glitches that have blocked many Americans from signing up for health coverage through the new federal online health plan marketplace. Several state-run insurance exchanges are using the same technology vendor in a supporting role that the federal government has used with such problematic results for the federal online marketplace, but with quite different results (Conn, 10/17).

The Associated Press: Conn. Health Exchange Attracting Older Enrollees
Connecticut’s new online insurance marketplace is getting a better picture of who is signing up for health coverage -- mostly middle-aged and older adults. In the most detailed briefing since enrollment began Oct. 1, Access Health CT’s Peter Van Loon expressed some concern that older people "have jumped on this in a big way," acknowledging that the marketplace has always wanted a mixed sampling of ages so the risk pool is balanced (Haigh, 10/18).

The Seattle Times: Obamacare: 'Great Start' Here, While Oregon Lags
To get a glimpse of how the 2-week-old health-insurance exchanges are faring under the Affordable Care Act, there may not be a better place to look than the Pacific Northwest and its striking contrasts. On the one hand, the Washington state-run exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder, is widely perceived to be off to a strong start (Landa, 10/17).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Health Exchange Workers Will Review Eligibility Manually Until Online Enrollment Is Fixed
On Tuesday, Cover Oregon staff began processing eligibility applications manually as a first step prior to helping people get enrolled in either a government program or the commercial insurance of their choice. The applications are a backup plan to what was intended to be the exchange's online enrollment function. Applications will now be considered by Cover Oregon employees, rather than its website, to determine if people qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, tax credits to reduce premiums, or other government assistance. The decision to have workers, not the website, process applications underlines that a fix to the website's enrollment problems may not be imminent (Budnick, 10/17).

California Healthline: Campaign Launched To Enroll Children, Families In Covered California
The Children's Partnership launched a statewide drive Wednesday to reach uninsured children and their families through schools, after-school programs and child care centers to provide information on the health care options available in Covered California and Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act." … The campaign is geared to let schools, after-school programs and child-care centers know that there is information and help available for them to work with students, families and even employees to let them know about health care options (Norberg, 10/17).

Minnesota Public Radio: Five MNsure Promises: Has The Agency Delivered?
State officials have said it will make shopping for health insurance easier, and for some people, provide less expensive insurance options. When the state's $100 million online insurance marketplace finally launched earlier this month, consumers found that while it shares some of the same components as those well-known websites, it lacks important features -- even though it was more than two years in the making. MPR News went back into the archives to find five of the biggest promises MNsure officials made about the future site before its launch -- and gauged whether they've delivered on them (Richert, 10/17).

The Star Tribune: MNsure Announces Recipients Of $4 Million In Grants
Officials with the state’s online health insurance exchange on Wednesday announced the final list of recipients for $4 million in federal outreach grants, ending a process that spawned a contentious public hearing before legislators and drew questions from Gov. Mark Dayton over its lack of inclusion of certain groups, including those who serve African-Americans and those with mental health concerns. In a meeting with the MNsure board, Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov defended the sweep of the recipients, saying the organizations have adequate reach across the state and across various hard-to-reach populations. About 55 percent of grantees serve minorities and immigrants -- with six groups serving African-Americans, six serving Hispanics, five working with American Indians, and four each working with Asian and/or Hmong populations and new immigrants (Crosby, 10/17).

Georgia Health News: Exchange Enrollment In Georgia Still Unknown
Technical problems have continued to block and frustrate consumers trying to enroll online on That’s the government portal, created by the Affordable Care Act, that offers coverage for people who are uninsured or have individual health policies. It took until Wednesday, in fact, before community health centers in Georgia were finally able to get their first consumer signed up for coverage via the website. The successful online enrollment, at a health center in Warrenton, took two hours, Cathy Bowden, information management coordinator for the Georgia Association for Primary Health Care, told GHN on Thursday. The community health centers have 14 people licensed as navigators across the state, with another 17 hoping to gain licensure soon (Miller, 10/17).

The Washington Post: Gansler's New Running Mate Knocks Brown For Problems With Maryland's Health Exchange
Health care is among the issues on which Brown has played a leading role in the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). Until recently, Maryland had been held up as a model for its implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But the Web site for Maryland's health exchange was plagued by glitches when it debuted this month, hindering the ability of people to sign up for coverage as part of Obama’s signature initiative (Wagner, 10/17).

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