KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Poll: 5 Percent of 2013 Uninsured Now Have Coverage

The Gallup survey pegged the uninsured rate at 13 percent. Meanwhile, in exchange news, The Denver Post notes increased sign-ups, and Oregon works to retain workers for its troubled marketplace.

Politico: Poll: 5 Percent Newly Insured In 2014
About 5 percent of Americans who were uninsured last year got coverage in 2014, and more than half of those — about 2.8 percent of the population — obtained their plan through an Obamacare exchange, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. The poll, taken after the close of the first enrollment season, pegged the uninsured rate at more than 13 percent. Among those newly insured through exchanges, young adults outpaced their share of the general population more than any other age group. However, the daily tracking poll, conducted between April 15 and June 17, also found that the newly insured were also less healthy than average adults (Wheaton, 6/24).

Denver Post: Colorado Health Insurance Exchange Marks Milestone Of 137,000 Insured
The number of new enrollees in private health insurance through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, continues to inch upward by about a couple hundred a day — and now stands at 137,000, officials said Tuesday. Although open enrollment officially ended March 31 with 118,000 signups, it unofficially ended at 124,000 in mid-April as people who started before the deadline finally finished the process. As people's life circumstances change — jobs are lost, relocations occur, marriages end or begin, babies are born — they are eligible to purchase policies outside the enrollment period, said exchange spokesman Ben Davis (Draper, 6/24).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Retention Bonuses Offered To Employees Who Stick Around
Cover Oregon, reeling from heavier-than-expected personnel departures, will pay its remaining employees bonuses worth at least two week's pay if they remain with the controversy-mired operation through the next nine months. Thirty-eight employees with skills considered "critical," will get bonuses worth one to three months' pay. Cover Oregon, which was in charge of the state's disastrous health care exchange development effort, has lost 27 employees since April, said Clyde Hamstreet, interim CEO in a recent letter to the board of directors. Some of those reductions came as a result of layoffs. But many left on their [own] accord as Cover Oregon's flagship project – the state's ambitious health insurance exchange website – became a full-fledged technological and political disaster (Manning, 6/24).

Also in Oregon, preliminary data suggests that Medicaid coverage may be changing enrollees' behavior -

The Oregonian: First Year Of Oregon Health Plan Reforms Shows Some Improvements, While Other Measures Fell Short
State officials are highlighting a new report showing Oregon Health Plan members are using hospital emergency departments less and primary care more. But the extent to which the state's 2012 reforms can claim credit for the improvements remains to be seen. A new state report found that compared to two years before, members of Oregon's Medicaid program used the emergency department 17 percent less. They also were hospitalized significantly less often for chronic conditions such as adult asthma and congestive heart failure, which are better treated in a primary care office. And hospital readmission rates for additional treatment were down (Budnick, 6/24).

In addition, some congressional Republicans hammer concerns about workers at a federally funded processing center set up under the health law having little to do -

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Lawmakers Escalate Criticism Of Agency Overseeing Obamacare Facility
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the agency that oversees a health-care-law processing center in Wentzville, Mo., is "withholding details about the way it spends taxpayers' hard-earned dollars," and that it may take an inspector general's report to get those answers. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, agrees, saying the agency's response to his questions has been an "embarrassment," and "vague and woefully incomplete." ... Blunt and Sen. Lamar Alexander; R-Tenn.; and Luetkemeyer and other Republicans in Missouri's congressional delegation wrote [CMS Administrator Marilyn] Tavenner after whistleblowers alleged that workers at the plant in Wentzville had so little to do they sometimes played board games or read while at work (Raasch, 6/25).

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