KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Christie Rejects State-Run Health Insurance Exchange

The New Jersey governor said he didn't have enough information about the alternatives.

The Wall Street Journal: Christie Rebuffs Health Exchange
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday joined a string of Republican state leaders in turning down a key component of the Obama health-care overhaul, a move freighted with political consequences for GOP governors eyeing potential presidential runs. Some Republican governors have made a show recently of rebuffing President Barack Obama's chief domestic initiative, but Mr. Christie struck a softer tone. He rejected a bill Thursday that was designed to establish a state-run health insurance exchange, while leaving open the possibility he might change his mind later (King and Radnofsky, 12/6).

Politico: Chris Christie Nixes State-Run Insurance Exchange
Christie — who was in Washington on Thursday pushing for Hurricane Sandy aid — rejected a bill passed by the Democratic state Legislature that would have built an exchange, a key part of the president’s health care law that makes available subsidies to help low- and middle-income individuals purchase coverage in new health insurance markets starting in 2014 (Millman, 12/7).

Modern Healthcare: N.J.'s Christie Rejects State-Run Health Insurance Exchange
Christie put his state among a growing number that will defer to the federal government to run the health insurance marketplaces that are a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The picture of which states would participate in providing tightly regulated individual and small-group coverage through the exchanges beginning in 2014 has rapidly clarified since the Nov. 6 election. Under a Dec. 14 deadline to notify the Obama administration of plans to establish a state-based exchange, 21 states have indicated they will not form their own exchange. In states that decline, HHS will operate an insurance marketplace on its own or in partnership with state officials (Blesch, 12/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Gov. Christie Vetoes State-Run Exchange Bill
“We will comply with the Affordable Care Act, but only in the most efficient and cost-effective way for New Jersey taxpayers,’’ Christie said in a statement. “Such an important decision as how to best move forward for New Jerseyans can only be understood and reasonably made when fairly and fully compared to the overall value of the other options. Until the federal government gives us all the necessary information, any other action than this would be fiscally irresponsible” (Adams, 12/6).

The Hill: NJ Rejects State-Based Health Exchange
In a technical sense, Christie vetoed a bill that would have begun to establish the exchange. At least 17 states are declining to create their own marketplaces, and most are governed by Republicans who continue to oppose the healthcare law. The decisions pose a huge challenge to the Department of Health and Human Services, which must step in and do the work itself (Viebeck, 12/6).

The Daily Show: Chris Christie Pt. 2 (video)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie explains why he vetoed a state-run health insurance exchange, but will accept federal disaster relief.

Other media outlets explore the exchange implications for state leaders and for consumers -

Kaiser Health News: Governors Weigh Options On Health Insurance Exchanges
[Governors'] decisions about whether to set up state-run online markets to offer health insurance will affect whether millions of individual consumers and small businesses shop for coverage on state or federally operated websites starting in 2014. Consumers are likely to see some differences – possibly around the number of insurers offering plans, the scope of coverage and the marketing campaigns to persuade people to enroll (Appleby, 12/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Federal Exchange Details Beginning To Emerge
Bottled up by the Obama administration for months before the election, details about how the federal government will operate insurance exchanges in states that don’t establish their own are beginning to emerge — to the great relief of the insurance industry. “They are opening the door,” is how Candy Gallaher, a senior insurance industry official, summed up the situation after hearing remarks Wednesday by Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen at an industry conference at the Renaissance Chicago hotel (Reichard, 12/6).

CT Mirror: So, What’s An Exchange?
It's a major piece of "Obamacare," and set to debut in just under 10 months. ... An exchange is a store for selling health insurance. Every state is supposed to have one as part of federal health reform. Connecticut's is expected to begin selling coverage in October; the plans will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange CEO Kevin Counihan said it's intended to be a simpler, more transparent way to buy coverage than the market that exists now. Who will use it? If you buy coverage for yourself, you will have the option of buying it through the exchange. So will small businesses (Levin Becker, 12/6).

Related, earlier KHN story: A Guide To Health Insurance Exchanges (Appleby, 7/10/11)

CT Mirror: Exchange Chat Draws Questions, Chiding, On Health Insurance Reform
The audience at Thursday night's panel discussion on the state's health insurance exchange included those with questions about the basics of federal health reform and those with arguments about the nuances of policy decisions being made. The discussion was one of seven "Healthy Chats" being held around the state, part of an effort to raise awareness and answer questions about the exchange (Levin Becker, 12/6).

California Healthline: Report Urges Exchanges To Help Consumers Make Right Choices
Setting up a health benefit exchange is so complex that the simpler aspects sometimes can get lost, said Ted von Glahn, a senior director at Pacific Business Group on Health. … Von Glahn helped create a new PBGH report that looked at one basic and vital component of the enrollment process at health benefit exchanges: the moment when online participants choose a health plan. There are only a few yardsticks that can effectively measure enrollment success, he said, but online enrollment success is one of them (Gorn, 12/6).

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