KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Exchange Officials Air Difficulties, Lessons During Capitol Hill Hearing

A House panel heard testimony from officials from five states -- Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon -- that faced problems during the health law's open enrollment period and from California, which has had success.   

The New York Times: State Officials Cite Technology Problems On Health Insurance Sites
Officials from five states, on the defensive at a congressional hearing, said Thursday that their health insurance exchanges had been hobbled by technology problems like those that bedeviled the federal marketplace. But they said their states were recovering. The states — Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon — all have Democratic governors who support the Affordable Care Act. They built their own exchanges with millions of dollars of federal money, but many residents in all five states were frustrated as they tried to enroll online last fall (Pear, 4/3).

Los Angeles Times: Leaders Of Troubled State Exchanges Say They Won't Need U.S. Bailouts
Pressed by Republican House members, directors of troubled state insurance exchanges said Thursday that they could fix continuing Obamacare glitches with grant money they have already received and would not ask for federal bailouts. Members of the House Government & Oversight Reform committee sought to turn their attention to the technical glitches after a week of celebration for the White House, which surpassed its goal of signing up more than 7 million under the new healthcare law. Witnesses called to Capitol Hill included the current and interim heads of the exchanges in Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon — which have all had varying degrees of problems (Reston, 4/3).

The Wall Street Journal: States Grapple With Fixing Problem-Plagued Health Exchanges
Deep problems with state-run health-insurance exchanges are prompting a handful of states to rethink their systems for next year's enrollment period. Lawmakers are concerned that the most troubled state marketplaces are burning through money faster than expected and could struggle after federal funds are cut off in 2015. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., are running their own insurance exchanges, largely using federal funds tied to the Affordable Care Act (Corbett Dooren, 4/3).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: State Exchange Executives Face Tough Questions From House Subcommittee
For some states, like California, things have gone well. But the rollout in states like Maryland and Oregon has been rocky. Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and CQ Roll Call's Emily Ethridge discuss why some states did better than others with their health exchange rollouts (4/3).

MinnPost: Lawmakers Look Past MNsure At Health-Care Exchange Hearing
Early in a U.S. House hearing on six state health-care exchanges Thursday, it looked like Republicans would take aim at Minnesota's embattled exchange, MNsure. The first lawmaker to ask questions, Rep. Paul Gosar, a conservative Republican from Arizona, put MNsure's interim CEO Scott Leitz firmly on the hot seat (Henry, 4/3).

The Star Tribune: MNsure Chief Is Grilled By Congress
Members of Congress' chief investigative committee aggressively questioned MNsure’s interim CEO on Thursday, demanding to know if Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace has rebounded from problems that left it on the brink of collapse last fall. Citing the findings of a consultant’s report from January that found MNsure's management in constant "crisis mode," Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., pressed interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz for details on the shake-up inside the agency in the wake of a troubled launch. In its infancy, MNsure’s call center wait times stretched up to an hour and its website blocked residents from buying insurance (Mitchell, 4/4).

Modern Healthcare: Officials From Troubled State Exchanges Emphasize Enrollment Success
Several officials from troubled state insurance exchanges Thursday focused on damage control, seeking to put a positive spin on their efforts when they trudged up Capitol Hill to testify about their operational problems (Demko, 4/3).

CQ HealthBeat: Republicans Question Cost of State Health Exchange Repairs
Officials of five troubled state health exchanges said Thursday they are on track to meet their goals, but House Republicans remained wary that fixing the exchanges may cost the federal government. Rep. James Lankford, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements, questioned how some states that chose to create their own exchanges under the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) had trouble building websites after millions of dollars were spent (Ethridge, 4/3).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Flies Under Congressional Radar At Thursday Hearing
Compared with some states, Oregon largely escaped hostile questioning in a congressional hearing Thursday that focused on troubled health insurance exchanges. The hearing showed Cover Oregon is not alone in having problems, despite being the only state where consumers can't enroll in coverage and qualify for reduced premiums in a single sitting. Officials from four other problem exchanges joined Oregon before the Republican-led joint subcommittee hearing, as well as the California exchange, considered a success story (Budnick, 4/3).

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