KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Some States Beating Others To Health Law Enrollment Punch

News outlets take closer looks at the Obama administration's health law enrollment figures and find that some states are far outpacing others. Marketplace problems that persist in some states are also examined.

The Associated Press: Disparities Seen In Enrollments Under The Affordable Care Act
Most states are still lagging when it comes to sign-ups under President Obama’s health care law, but an Associated Press analysis of numbers reported Wednesday finds a dozen high-achievers getting ahead of the game. Huge disparities are emerging in how well states are living up to federal enrollment targets, and that will help determine if the White House reaches its unofficial goal of having 7 million signed up by the end of March, six weeks away (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/13).

The Associated Press: Michigan Beats Health Insurance Sign-Up Targets
About 112,000 Michigan residents chose a private insurance plan under the federal health care law in the first four months of enrollment, outpacing government projections by 12,000. Numbers released Wednesday by President Barack Obama's administration show 36,500 more people in the state signed up through a federal website from Dec. 29 to Feb. 1 (2/13).

The Associated Press: Oregon Health Enrollments In The Middle Of The Pack
The latest federal figures show Oregon places in the middle of the pack among states that built their own health insurance exchanges when it comes to the number of people who've signed up for private plans under the Affordable Care Act. An analysis of new federal government figures by The Associated Press shows that Oregon is seventh when it comes to enrollments in private coverage as a percentage of states' populations. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have their own exchanges (2/13).

The Seattle Times: About 30,000 To Have Health Insurance By End Of March
After the uproar over insurance plans that were discontinued under the Affordable Care Act, the number of Washington residents with individual coverage is expected to increase, according to state projections released Thursday. An estimated 300,000 people are predicted to have health-insurance plans by the end of March when the individual insurance market closes for the year (Stiffler, 2/13).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Health Sign-Ups Gaining Steam
Southeastern Pennsylvania is among the top regions in the country for enrollment in the federal insurance marketplace, which officials said Wednesday grew significantly nationwide in January. The Obama administration said about one million people signed up for private insurance under the health law last month through federal and state marketplaces combined, extending a turnaround from early days when dysfunctional websites frustrated consumers (Sapatkin, 2/13).

MinnPost: MNsure Leaders Present Proof Of Small But Measurable Progress
MNsure has proof that the exchange is working better for consumers -- a distinct change from past claims -- but the fledgling marketplace has a long way to go before it’s fully fixed and on firm ground. The exchange’s leaders went before lawmakers tasked with overseeing the marketplace on Wednesday, where they described efforts to bring on a new lead technology vendor to fix MNsure, a contract to beef up its call center and potential difficulties remaining financially solvent (Nord, 2/13). 

The Star Tribune: MNsure Error Rates Improve As Sign-Up Gets Easier 
Consumers are having an easier time getting through the MNsure website as a result of efforts to fix technology issues and beef up call center staff, officials at the state’s new online health insurance exchange said Wednesday. While the website remains "less than perfect," it is stabilizing, MNsure interim CEO Scott Leitz said in a measured progress report delivered to state lawmakers and an increasingly antsy board of directors in separate meetings. "We still have a ways to go, but we have taken significant steps forward" in reducing error rates and adding staff, Leitz said (Crosby and Meitrodt, 2/13).

WBUR: Updates, But No Solutions, From Today’s Connector Board Meeting
If you have or have tried to sign up for health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector, you know the website is a mess. Last week, Gov. Deval Patrick brought in a special assistant, Sarah Iselin, and and IT oversight group, Optum. Today we had the first of what are to be weekly updates, with graphics that map the problems many of you are having. If you are expecting a quick fix, you can stop reading here. But there are some important updates that might be helpful (Bebinger, 2/13).

The Boston Globe: 50,000 Filings For Health Coverage In Limbo
About 50,000 health insurance applications, many filed by low-income Massachusetts residents, have yet to be processed by the state’s troubled insurance marketplace, officials disclosed Thursday, and it may take months to get all these people enrolled in subsidized plans. For several months, residents have been encouraged to file old-fashioned paper applications because the state’s insurance website has been hobbled by error messages and has crashed frequently since it was revamped in October to comply with the more complex requirements of the federal health care law. Frustration with the broken Massachusetts Health Connector website and the paperwork backlog was evident Thursday, when Jean Yang, the agency’s executive director, wept as she told the Connector board how demoralized her staff is (Levenson, 2/14).

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