KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Consumers Who Receive Insurance Subsidies Will Be Asked To Verify Income, Other Information

Meanwhile, news outlets report the latest on health exchanges in New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota and Illinois.   

Miami Herald: Consumer Asked to Verify Income, Other Information – Or Risk Losing Government Subsidies For Health Insurance
About eight million people signed up for a health plan through the ACA exchanges. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85 percent of them were eligible for financial aid, and the government is expected to deliver about $10 billion in subsidies during the first year. Healthcare analysts say some consumers will end up paying higher monthly premiums as a result of the verification process, while others may have to repay some or all of their subsidies if they are found to be ineligible. But for some, like (Luis) Martinez, the verification process has become a maze of red tape (Chang and Madigan, 7/28).

Modern Healthcare: Under Pressure To Run Insurance Exchanges, States Wary Of Glitches
New Mexico has decided to stick with HealthCare.gov for 2015. Given the vast technology problems many state-based exchanges experienced during the first open-enrollment period, state officials there and elsewhere remain wary of running their own websites. New Mexico's exchange board voted 11-1 on Friday to delay enrollments in the state's website for another year (Demko, 7/28).

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Gave Ex-Technology Director Aaron Karjala A $70,000 Contract After Resignation Under Pressure
Cover Oregon has given a $70,000 contract to Aaron Karjala, the health insurance exchange's former top technology official, to assist with litigation against Oracle Corp. Clyde Hamstreet, formerly the exchange's acting executive director, signed the contract with Karjala June 3, less than three months after Gov. John Kitzhaber publicly called for his firing. Oregon is exploring a lawsuit against Oracle over state officials' complaints that the exchange's main technology vendor delivered shoddy work and didn't keep promises (Budnick, 7/28).

The Star Tribune: State Issues Apology For MNcare Error
The state of Minnesota is contacting nearly 9,000 recipients of MinnesotaCare health insurance to clarify a letter that incorrectly stated they would lose their subsidized coverage for at least four months if they didn’t re-enroll by July 31. Minnesota used to make new or tardy MinnesotaCare enrollees wait four months for benefits, but that waiting period went away this year as part of federal health changes and the introduction of the MNsure online health insurance marketplace. The affected recipients will lose their benefits for August if they don’t renew by July 31, but they could get them back by September if they enroll sometime in August (Olson, 7/28).

Chicago Tribune: Local Health Care Outreach Program To Muslims Ends With Ramadan
As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close on Monday, an annual outreach program aimed at educating Chicago-area Muslims about the importance of health care is finishing up as well. "Ramadan is not just about prayer. It's about community service,"said Abrar Quader, who attended services at different mosques each night with his father, Azher Quader, executive director of the Compassionate Care Network to help inform people about their coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. The program, called "30 Mosques in 30 Days," was the combined effort of the Compassionate Care Network, Get Covered America and Heartland Health Center. Over the last four weeks, volunteers spoke to thousands of Muslims, encouraging them to enroll if they have not already and answering questions about how coverage works (Baer, 7/28). 

Meanwhile, in other implementation policy news -

Los Angeles Times: Employer Health Insurance Mandate A Political Orphan
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, its requirement that large employers provide health coverage or pay a penalty seemed to many supporters a key pillar of the effort to guarantee health coverage to Americans. Four years later and after repeated delays, the so-called employer mandate has become something of an orphan, reviled by the law's opponents and increasingly seen as unnecessary by many of its backers. Twice in the last two years, the Obama administration has put off the penalties, citing difficulties enforcing the mandate (Levey, 7/28).

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