KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Washington State Exchange Confronts Persistent Technical Problems

Officials for the state's online health marketplace also ask lawmakers to increase the cap on general fund money they can use for marketing.

The Seattle Times: As Many As 1 in 5 Exchange Enrollees Affected By Technical Problems, Staff Concedes
A lack of transparency in describing and fixing technical problems became an issue in Thursday’s Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting. Board member Bill Hinkle grew testy at what he said was mutual staff back-patting and excuses for the problems still plaguing thousands of accounts (Ostrom, 8/28).

The Seattle Times: Health-Benefit Exchange Budget Grows; Will More Spending Mean More Revenue? 
Washington’s exchange will ask the state Legislature to lift its cap on allocations from the general fund, hoping for a budget that avoids cutting allocations for in-person assisters and advertising. Because revenue generated by the exchange goes into the state's general fund, to be doled out later by the Legislature, the $59.2 budget approved by the exchange board Thursday will require lawmakers to lift a $40 million cap established early on in the Affordable Care Act's history (Ostrom, 8/28).

And exchange news from Oregon, California and Florida --

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Turnaround Consultant's Bills Grew To $600,000-Plus As Exchange Obstacles Multiplied
The price tag of the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange fiasco continues to grow. As Clyde Hamstreet, the corporate turnaround expert hired to lead Cover Oregon in April, wraps up his work he leaves behind a stabilized agency -- and a hefty bill. Initially signed to a $100,000 contract, Hamstreet ended up staying longer than expected, with two associates joining him at Cover Oregon after Gov. John Kitzhaber essentially forced out three top officials there in a public display of house-cleaning (Budnick, 8/28).

California Healthline: Narrow Networks Bill Passes Floor Vote
The Assembly this week approved a bill to limit narrow networks in California's health plans. The legislation already passed a Senate vote and is expected to get concurrence today on the Senate floor and move to the governor's desk for final approval (Gorn, 8/28).

Tampa Bay Times: Florida Website Aimed At The Uninsured Draws Little Interest
Last year, legislators allocated $900,000 to help Floridians find affordable health care through a new state-backed website. At the same time, they refused to expand Medicaid or work with the federal government to offer subsidized insurance plans. Six months after the launch of the state's effort, called Florida Health Choices ( myfloridachoices.org), just 30 people have signed up. Another seven plans were canceled either because consumers changed their minds or didn't pay for services. ... But Health Choices doesn't sell comprehensive health insurance to protect consumers from big-ticket costs such as hospitalization. Instead, it has limited benefit options and discount plans for items like dental visits, prescription drugs and eyeglasses (Mitchell, 8/28).

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