KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Calif.’s Latino Enrollment Soared In Final Days; Hand-Wringing Continues Over Md.’s Online Marketplace

News outlets provide updates, analyses and post-mortems from California, Maryland and Minnesota. 

Los Angeles Times: Latino Healthcare Sign-Ups Soar In California
Enrollment by Latinos in California's healthcare insurance exchange surged in the final month of sign-ups after an intensive push to reach that key population. "Our enrollment became more diverse in this last month, particularly among California's Latino population; our enrollment became younger," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said during a conference call with reporters Thursday after testifying with the heads of other state exchanges on Capitol Hill (Reston, 4/3).

NBC News: Four Tries a Charm for Enrolling Latinos for Obamacare
After being contacted four times, Latinos and African-Americans were almost as likely as others to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a group focused on signing people up for coverage reported. Enroll America, a non-profit with ties to the White House, said its preliminary data shows uninsured consumers, especially the young, Latinos and African Americans, often needed to be contacted multiple times. Even though African Americans and Latinos started out as significantly less likely to enroll, “by the time they had been contacted four times, that gap significantly shrinks and they were nearly as likely to enroll as other consumers,” the group said in a report analyzing data from its outreach efforts (Gamboa, 4/3).

The Washington Post: Md. Health Official: Exchange Debacle Included ‘Decisions We Wish We Could Make Again’
As Maryland’s top health official testified before a congressional committee and addressed a panel of state lawmakers on Thursday, he kept facing questions about how much the state spent on its troubled health insurance marketplace — and how much more it will have to spend to replace that system. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Maryland’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, did not always have firm answers to those questions (Johnson, 4/3).

The Associated Press: Md. Audit Released On Health Exchange Problems
Maryland auditors who examined the state’s badly flawed health exchange website were given redacted documents to review and produced a report that is limited and provides an incomplete understanding of the development of the site, the state’s legislative auditor wrote. Thomas Barnickel, the state’s legislative auditor, wrote that about 26 percent of the documents were redacted. Procurement documents were “heavily redacted,” he wrote in a letter accompanying the report (4/3).

Minnesota Public Radio: MNsure: Six Crucial Questions
Even though the open enrollment period to buy commercial insurance for individuals and families is over, many questions loom over MNsure, the state's online health plan marketplace (Stawicki, 4/3).

Also in the headlines, a report on New Jersey's expanded Medicaid program -

Newark Star-Ledger: Expanded Obamacare Medicaid Backlog Means Financial Bind
By all accounts, enrollment in the expanded Medicaid program has gone well in New Jersey. The numbers are robust as the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act allows single residents and childless couples to get coverage provided their income is low enough. But getting an actual ID card that allows someone to see a doctor? The flood of applicants appears to have resulted in a systemwide backlog, according to applicants and field workers (O'Brien, 4/3).

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