KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Deadline Pressures Could Put More Exchanges In The U.S. Govt’s Hands

Reuters reports that if states that are pursuing their own insurance marketplaces can't keep up with the timeline, it could fall to Washington to run. Meanwhile, the Minnesota House approves legislation to set up its health exchange while advocates in Colorado press to make coverage of children's dental care mandatory in plans sold on that state's exchange.

Reuters: Washington Could Wind Up Running More Health Exchanges: Official
The U.S. government could have to run more state health insurance exchanges than expected under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, if U.S. states pursuing their own marketplaces cannot complete them on time, a senior official said on Thursday. The Obama administration has given 17 of the 50 states conditional approval to set up online exchanges where working families would purchase private plans at subsidized rates. The remaining 33 states will all have federally run markets, at least in the early years of the coming reform era (3/15).

MPR News: Abortion Restrictions Cut From Health Care Exchange Bill
Abortion restrictions have been cut from a final version of the health insurance exchange bill that will impact how more than a million Minnesotans obtain health coverage, starting in October. The House-Senate conference committee working on the bill Wednesday also settled on a way to fund the website that will allow consumers to compare private plans on the open market: There will be a 1.5 percent user fee on premiums for plans sold on the exchange in 2014 and up to 3.5 percent in 2015. The Senate had wanted to use an existing tobacco tax to fund the program (Stawicki, 3/14).

Pioneer Press: Minnesota House OKs Bill Creating Health Insurance Exchange
The slightest sliver of bipartisan support for a health insurance exchange in Minnesota apparently vanished early Friday morning, March 15, as the House of Representatives voted largely along party lines to support legislation to create the new marketplace. In the 72-61 vote, House Republicans were unanimous in voting against compromise legislation that was crafted this week by a conference committee (Snowbeck, 3/15).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Midnight Drama As Minnesota House Passes Exchange Bill
Landmark health insurance legislation is on its way to the Minnesota Senate after the House approved it shortly after midnight on Friday. The House passed a conference committee’s proposal to reconcile the differences in House and Senate bills enacting a Minnesota health insurance exchange. The ever-controversial exchange bill had a bumpy ride in the House, as anti-abortion legislators tried to revive an amendment that would have banned coverage of the procedure for any insurance policy sold on the exchange (Stawicki, 3/15).

The Denver Post: Colorado Advocates Rush To Save Kid Dental Benefits On Exchange
Colorado health advocates are renewing a push to make child dental care mandatory on the new state insurance exchange, after federal officials declared the benefits "essential" but "optional." Dental-care policies will be offered on the state exchange opening in October, parallel to health-insurance offers, but there is no federal mandate to buy oral-health coverage (Booth, 3/15).

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