KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Washington, Minnesota Tout Exchange Sign-Ups, While Oregon Official Exits

Another top official for the Cover Oregon exchange submitted her resignation this week, while a technology committee decides whether the state should participate in the federal exchange or fix the existing website with the help of a new contractor. Meanwhile, some consumers decline to buy coverage because they say they cannot afford the policies sold on the exchange.

The Associated Press: Technology Group To Decide Cover Oregon’s Future
The technology committee will decide whether Cover Oregon should ditch its glitch-filled website and replace it with the federal government’s health insurance marketplace, or try to fix the existing system with the help of a new IT contractor. The decision comes nearly seven months after Oregon’s exchange was supposed to go live so that residents could use it to compare and buy health insurance plans (4/24).

The Oregonian: Another Top Official Resigns From Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange
Triz delaRosa, the chief operating officer for the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange, has submitted her resignation, one month after Gov. John Kitzhaber called for her removal. DelaRosa, who'd worked for the exchange since June 2011, is just the latest political casualty of a fiasco that has already seen major turnover among managers who worked on the exchange, which continues to be the least functional in the country. On March 20, at a press conference, Kitzhaber announced that he had accepted the resignation of Bruce Goldberg, the acting Cover Oregon director who, in his prior job as Oregon Health Authority director, had overseen the construction of the exchange (Budnick, 4/23).

The Oregonian: Dennis Richardson Goes On The Attack Against Cover Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber
Rep. Dennis Richardson is on the lookout for Cover Oregon horror stories. Richardson, a Republican from Central Point and candidate for governor, said he wants to counterbalance what he calls "propaganda" by Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber contained in a recent ad campaign for the state's health insurance exchange. "To counteract his use of public money to promote a failed system and a failed website, we're asking citizens to share their stories," Richardson said (Esteve, 4/23).

Minnesota Public Radio: Signups Via Minn. Health Exchange Pass 200,000
MNsure's enrollment total topped the 200,000 mark as of Tuesday, the final day that people could choose a plan on the state's health insurance marketplace. About three quarters of those who enrolled in coverage since October qualified for government-sponsored coverage such as Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, MNsure spokesman Joe Campbell said. About 50,000 others enrolled in private coverage. "We're thrilled with the numbers," Campbell said. "We're thrilled with where we are today” (Stawicki, 4/23).

The Star Tribune: MNsure Crosses Key Milestone: 50,000 Enrollees
More than 50,000 Minnesotans have enrolled in a private health plan through the state’s new online insurance exchange, a key benchmark that makes it more likely MNsure will be able to make its budget work, officials said Wednesday. Enrollment in private plans is an important funding source because the agency collects a premium-based fee from insurance carriers on policies sold on the MNsure exchange. After technical problems prevented people from buying insurance through MNsure in November and December, exchange officials scaled back their original goal of enrolling 70,000 people in individual and family plans by April 1 (Crosby, 4/24).

The California Health Report: Some Still Struggling To Afford Affordable Care
Chanee Houston has decided to take her chances. As the open enrollment period for health insurance under Covered California closed this month, the 26-year-old remained uninsured. The Irvine resident had considered purchasing a plan through the state’s marketplace, “but even with the financial aid they give you, it’s still kind of expensive,” she said. “I can’t spend $100 a month right now.” More than 1.4 million people enrolled in a Covered California plan before the April 15 deadline, but some residents, such as Houston, feel that the Affordable Care Act still doesn’t provide them with affordable options. Others have signed up for health plans but wonder whether they’ll be able to pay the premiums or the out-of-pocket expenses associated with seeing a doctor (Johnson, 4/23).

The Seattle Times:  Health Exchange Sign-ups Cheered By State Officials
Close to 600,000 residents enrolled in private health coverage and Medicaid in the first year of the state insurance website, and Washington state leaders gathered Wednesday to mark the performance of this key provision of the Affordable Care Act. At the gathering in downtown Seattle, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials gave speeches worthy of Oscar recipients, thanking President Obama and the bipartisan support of local leaders, their employees and the legions of community partners that helped people enroll statewide (Stiffler and Ostrom, 4/23).

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