KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Failed State Exchanges Set Sights Too High, Say Experts

Common themes characterize several failed state exchanges, including trying to do too much the first year and having tangled lines of authority, reports CQ HealthBeat. Meanwhile, officials who oversaw those troubled marketplaces prepare to testify before congressional committees.

CQ HealthBeat: What’s The Matter With Blue State Exchanges? Experts See a Pattern
Maryland . . . Oregon . . . Massachusetts . . . Hawaii . . . Minnesota . . . it’s hard to think of a group of states with a politically stronger commitment to expanding coverage under the health law. But the marketplaces they set up to get that accomplished either malfunctioned mightily, underperformed or didn’t work at all ... Overly ambitious website designs, tangled lines of authority and incompetence and bad luck in picking contractors are among the reasons (Reichard, 4/3).

The Associated Press: Md. Panel To Get Update On Health Exchange
A legislative oversight panel on Maryland’s troubled health exchanged is holding a meeting to get an update from state officials. The Joint Oversight Committee of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is scheduled to meet in Annapolis on Thursday afternoon to hear details about an audit by state analysts (4/3).

The Washington Post: 7 Questions You Should Ask About Maryland’s Effort To Replace Its Troubled Health Exchange
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Tuesday that the state will replace nearly all of its troubled online health insurance exchange with technology borrowed from Connecticut, which has had one of the most successful exchanges in the country. The new system will be completed by November, officials say, in time for residents to enroll in private plans for 2015. Here are questions, and answers, about Maryland’s decision and the impact it will have on citizens seeking to benefit from the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Johnson, 4/2).

The Oregonian: Kitzhaber Adviser To Congress: Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Succeeding Despite 'Bumpy' Start
An adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber plans to tell a Congressional committee on Thursday that despite a "bumpy" start, Cover Oregon has enrolled more than 175,000 people in coverage and "those numbers grow every day." Greg Van Pelt has helped advise Kitzhaber on Cover Oregon following his retirement as CEO of Providence Health & Services last year. With several top Oregon exchange officials having either resigned or expected to resign, it's left to Van Pelt to address a Republican-led group of lawmakers probing problems at state-based health insurance exchanges (Budnick, 4/2).

Stateline: Next Steps For States And ACA
Like other states that opted to run their own exchange, Colorado spent several years and hundreds of millions in federal dollars to create an insurance marketplace specifically tailored for Coloradans. Complex legislation, multiple studies, numerous vendor contracts, dozens of public hearings and behind-the-scenes preparations led up to the launch of Colorado’s site in October. As of April 1, Colorado signed up 119,000 people for commercial insurance – a little shy of its goal of 136,000. State officials are already working on improvements for next year’s enrollment period, which starts Nov.15 and runs until Feb. 15, 2015 (Vestal, 4/3).

The Star Tribune: MNsure 'Stable, Secure And Successful,' Interim CEO To Tell Congress
MNsure's interim CEO will tell a congressional panel Thursday that Minnesota’s online health insurance exchange is “stable, secure and successful,” according to an advance copy of testimony reviewed by the Star Tribune. In testimony before two House Oversight subcommittees in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, interim CEO Scott Leitz will also acknowledge the exchange’s “rollout was rocky." MNsure is one of the six “problem-filled state exchanges” members of Congress will hear from (Mitchell, 4/2).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: GOP Proposal Would Regulate 'Navigators' Of Federal Health Law
A Republican-backed proposal to regulate the workers who help customers learn about insurance plans under the federal health care law appears to have traction in a [state] Senate committee. Pennsylvania would join numerous states in regulating the so-called navigators called for in the federal law. ... The Pennsylvania proposal, which has been sponsored by more than half the members of the Senate's Republican majority, would require navigators to register with the state Insurance Department and pass a criminal background check. The legislation would allow navigators to provide "general information" about enrolling in a health insurance marketplace but not to compare specific health plans (Langley, 4/3).

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