KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS Inspector General To Examine Maryland’s Troubled Health Exchange

Rep. Andy Harris, the state's only Republican member of Congress, requested the investigation even as lawmakers from both parties -- who have used the difficulties of the online insurance marketplace in the run up to this year's gubernatorial election -- say they welcome the review. News outlets also track developments in California, New York, Missouri, Hawaii, Colorado and South Carolina.  

The Washington Post: HHS Inspector General To Review Md. Health Exchange After Congressman Requests Probe
The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to review Maryland’s troubled online health insurance marketplace, according to a Republican congressman who called for an investigation into the tens of millions of dollars the state spent on the system, which has been marred with technical glitches and might soon be replaced or abandoned (Johnson, 3/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Lawmaker: Feds To Review Maryland Health Exchange
The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to review Maryland’s troubled health care exchange, a congressman said Monday. Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s only Republican congressman, said he has confidence that the nonpartisan and independent inspector general, who has subpoena power, will thoroughly investigate problems that have plagued the exchange since it opened in October (3/10).

Politico: Feds To Investigate Flawed Maryland Obamacare Exchange
The HHS Office of the Inspector General is launching an investigation into Maryland’s troubled health insurance exchange, the latest target of expanding federal oversight of poorly performing Obamacare exchanges. As requested by Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican and foe of the Affordable Care Act, investigators will look at the procedures state officials followed in contracting with the tech companies behind the site’s botched development and at troubles with Medicaid enrollment that are expected to significantly drive up costs (Norman, 3/10).

The Baltimore Sun: State Officials Welcome Federal Review Of Health Site
Elected officials from both parties said Monday they welcome a pending federal review of Maryland's troubled health insurance exchange, even as they used the latest development to take swipes at one another ahead of this year's gubernatorial election. The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will examine how millions of dollars of federal money was spent on the site, according to the Republican lawmaker who requested it (Fritze, 3/10).

U.S. News & World Report: Higher-Cost Obamacare Plans Don't Guarantee More Choice
A U.S. News analysis of health plans currently available on California's new insurance exchange found little correlation between the monthly price a consumer pays for a plan and the number of hospitals in the plan’s network. The findings indicate that, with careful selection, it’s possible for most Californians to buy an Obamacare plan that offers some freedom in choosing a hospital without paying top dollar in monthly premiums (Heilbrunn, 3/10).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Health Exchange Reports 591,000 Enrollees
The state's new health exchange reports more than 908,000 New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 591,000 of them have now enrolled for specific coverage (3/11).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Missouri Pulls Out Stops, But Lags Better-Funded Illinois Effort
Cover Missouri — a coalition of 400 organizations led by the Missouri Foundation for Health — has 130 enrollment events statewide this month. The St. Louis Effort for Aids, for example, planned the Rock Enroll event last Saturday (Kulash, 3/10).

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Propose Fees For [Hawaii] Health Exchange
State lawmakers are proposing charging a fee to insurers that are not participating in the state's insurance exchange under President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul. The fee would help prop up the financially troubled Hawaii Health Connector. The exchange has enough money to cover its bills for this year — but not beyond that, without some help (Bussewitz, 3/10).

Health News Colorado: Exchange CEO Complains Of ‘Cuts, Cuts, Cuts,’ But Board Refuses Fee Hikes
Colorado’s health exchange board refused to hike user fees by 21 percent Monday despite complaints from Connect for Health Colorado’s CEO that she’ll have to cut spending without more revenue. The news comes as managers have slashed projected enrollments. The most optimistic projections once predicted that as many as 204,000 Coloradans would have signed up for private health insurance by the end of this month. Mid-level projections called for about 133,000 while about 90,000 people have actually signed up so far. New projections now call for as few as 152,000 people buying through Connect for Health both this year and next (McCrimmon, 3/10).

Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier: Health Insurance Enrollment Continues To Climb In South Carolina
About 10,000 South Carolinians purchased a private insurance policy through the federal health insurance marketplace last month, driving total enrollment since Oct. 1 to nearly 37,000, according to the S.C. Department of Insurance. This includes only new customers who have actually paid their first month's premium. Monthly reports released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services use a broader definition of enrollment, and include some customers who have picked a plan but not paid (Sausser, 3/10).

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