Work On State-Run Obamacare Exchanges Not Done, Government Watchdog Says
And states have already spent close to $1.5 billion on IT systems for the marketplaces. Elsewhere, Alaska lawmakers hire a lawyer to challenge the proposed Medicaid expansion there, an audit of Massachusetts' low-income health insurance program finds spending problems and health coverage costs there fail to stay flat despite officials' efforts.
The Connecticut Mirror:
GAO: Still Work To Do On Obamacare State Exchange IT Systems
More than a year after launching, state-run health insurance exchanges, including Connecticut's, still hadn't fully completed key information technology functions, federal auditors said in a report released Wednesday. The Government Accountability Office’s report, which noted that states have spent close to $1.45 billion in federal funds on IT systems for the insurance marketplaces created by the federal health law, rated the 14 state-run exchanges' capabilities as of February in four categories. (Levin Becker, 9/17)
Alaska Dispatch News:
Legislature Hires Attorneys To Challenge Medicaid Expansion
The Alaska Legislature has signed a contract for lawyers to take on Gov. Bill Walker's expansion of Medicaid, drawing criticism from some of its own members who had urged them to not continue after an early loss. The contracts signed Tuesday for up to $450,000 include a signing bonus of $100,000, said Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage. ... The Legislative Council, the Legislature's operating arm, decided in August to sue Walker and his commissioner of Health and Social Services, Val Davidson, to block expansion, but failed to get an injunction before the state began enrolling Alaskans in the program on Sept. 1. (Forgey, 9/17)
Audit Of MassHealth Finds Problems With $4M In Spending
A new state audit takes issue with how MassHealth, the state’s health insurance for low-income residents, spent $4 million, WBUR reports. State Auditor Suzanne Bump says she found problems with how payments for wheelchairs and wheelchair parts were authorized. “We found that there were not proper authorizations for claims, we also found that nursing homes had submitted duplicative bills,” she said in an interview. (9/17)
As State Agency Fails To Keep Premiums Flat, What’s Ahead For Cost Control In Mass.
There’s a growing list of warning signs that Massachusetts, despite lots of effort, may be losing the battle to control health care costs. Last month, the Division of Insurance approved a 6.3 percent increase in the base rate for small businesses. Then, we heard that Massachusetts came in over the target cap for health care spending last year. And now, an attempt to keep health care premiums flat for the largest employee group in the state has failed. (Bebinger, 9/17)
Elsewhere, an Oregon lawmaker wants to ban transgender teens from having reassignment surgery without parental consent. And Government Executive and The Wall Street Journal look at how many uninsured remain -
Oregon Lawmaker Wants To Bar Transgender Teenagers From Sex Reassignment Surgery Without Parents' Permission
An Oregon legislator wants lawmakers to bar 15-year-olds from using the Oregon Health Plan to pay for sex reassignment surgery. No minors have yet used the state insurance to pay for such a surgery. But Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, said a 2014 decision to offer Oregon Health Plan coverage for transgender-related medicines and procedures could allow teenagers to make life-altering decisions they will later regret. (Parks, 9/17)
Government Executive's Route Fifty:
Stats Shot: Which States Have the Most Residents Without Health Insurance?
Among U.S. states, Texas had the highest percentage and greatest number of people without health insurance coverage in 2014, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data released on Wednesday. Of the roughly 25.9 million people in the Lone Star State, 19.1 percent, or just over 5 million, lacked health insurance last year, according to Census Bureau estimates. ... The map [with this post] shows some of the data the Census Bureau published for each state. (Lucia, 9/16)
The Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics:
More Americans Have Health Insurance. Here’s Who Still Doesn’t
The share of Americans without health insurance has plunged, but significant demographic gaps remain between who has coverage and who does not. The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that men, particularly young men, are much more likely to be uninsured than women. (Zumbrun and Overberg, 9/17)