KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

In States With Failing Exchanges, CMS Opens Door To Retroactive Premium Subsidies

A ruling by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will make it possible for consumers in some states to get federal subsidies even when they buy insurance outside of the Obamacare insurance marketplaces.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Troubled State-Run Websites Get Health Law Fix
HHS said state residents who were unable to sign up because of technical problems may still get federal tax credits if they bought private insurance outside of the new online insurance exchanges. The federal policy change is significant because until now the administration has stressed that the only place to get taxpayer-subsidized insurance under President Barack Obama’s health law is through the new online markets, called exchanges. Previously, people who bought outside the marketplace were not eligible for subsidies, although they benefit from consumer protections in the law (2/28).

The Oregonian: Some Victims Of Cover Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Problems May Qualify For Relief
Some Oregonians who faced hassles dealing with the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange received good news Wednesday: the federal government is providing an avenue for people to obtain retroactive tax credits through the exchange if the tech troubles forced them to purchase full-price coverage elsewhere (Budnick, 2/27).

Meanwhile, other states wrestle with insurance marketplace issues -

Los Angeles Times: Grim Scenario For Hawaii’s Obamacare Plan: The Numbers Don’t Add Up
As the Hawaii Legislature weighs bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s Obamacare program, the interim director of Hawaii's healthcare exchange on Wednesday laid out a grim financial picture facing the agency (Reston, 2/27).

Kaiser Health News: Conn. Tries To Sell Its Obamacare Success To Other States
Connecticut is widely seen as one of the states that is succeeding with the Affordable Care Act. Its website works well, and it has already exceeded its first-year enrollment goals. Other states have noticed (Cohen, 2/28).

The Boston Globe: Mass. May Give Up On Still-Failing Health Site
The lack of a working website may make it difficult to meet the June 30 deadline to move more than 200,000 people into insurance plans that comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, said Sarah Iselin, special assistant to Governor Deval Patrick. But she said the administration would devise a backup plan so residents would remain insured if the website is not ready — possibly by developing workarounds like the ones the state is already using to provide people temporary coverage without depending on the Health Connector website (Johnson, 2/27).

WBUR: Connector Website On The Mend, But Many Applicants Still In Limbo
The Connector has picked up the pace of processing a backlog of 72,000 applications for free and subsidized coverage. In two weeks, the backlog has dropped to 39,000, with help from Optum, the outside firm that has brought in 233 data entry folks so far. That number is supposed to rise to 318 by next Monday. But 39,000 people that have applied for coverage may not have any, and haven’t heard anything about the status of their application. The Connector says it has tried to prioritize applicants who need coverage right away (Bebinger, 2/27).

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