KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Penalties, Progress And Politics All Play Into State Health Law Decisions

States like California, Kansas and Virginia continue to contemplate specific aspects of the health law. Meanwhile, Florida will face health law penalties if it doesn't make changes to its insurance program for state workers. And, in Indiana, Democrats are pushing for more implementation, despite the opposition of Republicans -- who control the state legislature and governor's mansion.

The Associated Press: Fla. Must Offer Insurance Or Pay $300M Penalty
It turns out that the state of Florida has yet another major decision to make in the next few months when it comes to the federal health care overhaul. The state may be forced to make sweeping changes to its health insurance program for state workers if it wants to avoid paying substantial penalties required under the law pushed by President Barack Obama (Fineout, 1/16).

The Associated Press: Ind. Democrats Pushing For More Health Care Action
Democratic lawmakers pushed Wednesday for Indiana to take steps toward implementing the federal health care overhaul that Republicans who control state government have so far rejected. States have the option of setting up their own insurance exchanges to allow individuals and small businesses to compare and buy private insurance policies (1/16).

Kansas Health Institute: Legislators Request 'Lengthy Discussion' On HIE Developments
In the session's first meeting of the Senate's health committee, among the concerns raised by legislators was that they were "in the cold" regarding developments of the state's health information exchange. Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, asked Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to prepare an update on Kansas' health information exchange, which launched in July (Cauthon, 1/16).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Panel Backs Giving SCC Authority To Manage Exchange Insurance Plans
A Senate subcommittee today endorsed a proposal to give the State Corporation Commission the authority to manage insurance plans that would be offered through a federal health benefits exchange under the Affordable Care Act. By unanimous vote, the subcommittee recommended to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee that the SCC Bureau of Insurance be allowed to review and approve rates for individual and small group plans offered on the exchange, and to certify health insurance plans that are qualified to participate. The legislation, proposed by Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, who chairs the Commerce and Labor Committee, would not commit Virginia to a so-called partnership or hybrid exchange with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Martz, 1/16).

California Healthline: How Will Covered California Service Centers Work?
Service centers -- the places where California consumers will be directed through an 800 phone number and a web portal to get answers to their exchange and eligibility questions -- are on the agenda at today's meeting of the Health Benefit Exchange board. Betsy Imholz, director of the West Coast office of Consumers Union, hopes her questions about service centers will be answered at today's meeting. Consumers Union is one of 13 advocacy groups that signed onto a recent letter to the exchange board, asking for assurance that the board hasn't yet adopted a particular type of protocol model for the service centers, a protocol that Imholz said could discourage people from participating in the exchange (Gorn, 1/17).

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