KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Minnesota Finalizes $41 Million Contract For Online Health Exchange

The state announced the two-year contract with Maximus, a Virginia-based company, to design and maintain a state-run insurance exchange.  

MinnPost:  Minnesota Announces $41 Million Contract To Set Up Health Exchange
Minnesota announced a $41 million contract on Monday with the Virginia-based Maximus firm to design and maintain a state-run health insurance exchange mandated in the federal health insurance reform law.  The state is one of at least 15 to move forward with a health insurance exchange using executive branch authority, and Gov. Mark Dayton has been a strong proponent for a state-run exchange rather than the more rigid federal option (Nord, 7/16).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Minnesota Signs Online Health Exchange Deal For $41 Million
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has signed a $41 million contract with a Virginia-based company to develop the state's health insurance exchange -- a key piece of the federal overhaul of the nation's health care system. Maximus Inc. will design and develop technical capabilities, including a consumer-friendly website, for the health exchange as well as Minnesota's Medicaid health insurance program, according to a Monday, July 16, news release. "We can now move forward on developing the technology backbone of the exchange, a user-friendly tool that will help more than 1.2 million Minnesotans," Mike Rothman, the state's commerce commissioner, said in the release (7/16).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minn. To Pay Va. Firm $41 Million To Build New Health Exchange Website Minnesota has awarded Maximus Inc. a two-year, $41 million contract to create the state's new health insurance exchange website. Reston, Va.-based Maximus is a government outsourcing company focused on health and human services agencies around the world and has more than $900 million in annual revenue. The exchange -- one local lawmaker likened it to a Travelocity for health insurance -- will be a one-stop shop on the Web for individuals and businesses to buy health insurance and enroll in Medicaid coverage. It's expected to launch in the fall of 2013 (Bjorhus, 7/16).

Minnesota Public Radio: Firm Chosen To Build Tech Side Of Minn. Insurance Exchanges
The state Commerce Department has chosen a Virginia company to build the technical part of its health insurance exchange. The state-based exchanges are a cornerstone of the federal health care law and in about a year and a half, will allow individuals and small groups to comparison shop for health insurance. Commerce awarded the $41 million contract to MAXIMUS of Reston, Va., which with several subcontractors, will create the Minnesota's exchange. Maximus bills itself as the leading administrator of Medicaid services in the U.S. The subcontractors include IBM, Connecture based in Waukesha, Wis., and Florida-based EngagePoint (Stawicki, 7/16).

In exchange news from California --

Sacramento Bee: California Health Exchange Seeks To Make Buying Insurance A Breeze
Peter V. Lee wants to make buying health insurance "as easy as buying a book on Amazon."
He heads the nascent California Health Benefit Exchange, the cornerstone of the state's effort to put in place the federal health care overhaul. Lee envisions that 15 months from now, uninsured California residents will log onto any computer to shop for health care the same way they purchase novels. The poorest residents will receive Medi-Cal. Those above the poverty line will find a menu of subsidized private options at different prices, from a "platinum" plan with higher premiums but lower deductibles down to a "bronze" selection that has lower premiums but requires the buyer to accept more risk (Yamamura, 7/17).

California Healthline: How Active Should Exchange Be In Defining Market?
A new issue brief from the Pacific Business Group on Health urges exchange board members to play an active role in promoting the quality and affordability of health care in California. Rather than acting as a passive online clearinghouse with a variety of plan options, PBGH urges the exchange to establish quality standards for plans and useful tools to help consumers pick the plan that is right for them. In essence, PBGH is urging the exchange, as it navigates the middle road, to lean more toward the first option as market definer and organizer. We asked stakeholders how the exchange should steer down this path (7/16).

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