KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Health Insurance Exchanges Moving In Fits And Starts

Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas and California are grappling with various aspects of implementing the health law.

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Vt. House Advances Health Insurance Overhaul Bill
The Vermont House on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a bill under which the state would take the next big step on a path to sweeping health insurance reform passed in broad outline last year. ... Vermont's version of the [health insurance] exchange called for under the federal health overhaul passed two years ago would go further than most, and it would be used as a springboard for moving the state toward a government-run single-payer health insurance system by decade's end (Gram, 2/23).

Kaiser Health News: Minnesota Exchange Grant Arrives In Politically Divided State
The federal government has awarded Minnesota a $26 million grant to help fund the creation of the state insurance exchange — a key part of the federal health care law. The grant comes to a state government bitterly divided over carrying out federal health reform (Stawicki, 2/23).

Kansas City Star: Kansas, Missouri Unlikely To Meet Deadline On Health Care
Kansas and Missouri are almost certain to miss an end-of-the-year deadline for establishing a key component of the nation’s health care law — health insurance "exchanges" where individuals and businesses can compare and purchase coverage. ... For months, experts in both states have been working quietly to figure out how to meet that Dec. 31 deadline. But conservative Republican lawmakers — concerned that the exchanges are an implicit endorsement of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act — have blocked further implementation of the exchanges (Helling, 2/23).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Senate Narrowly Rejects Health Reform Protest
The Kansas Senate today narrowly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution protesting the federal health reform law. ... The supporters of House Concurrent Resolution 5007 said it would exempt Kansans from parts of the federal health reform law, specifically the mandate that those who can afford health insurance must have it or pay a tax penalty (Cauthon, 2/23). 

The Associated Press/Kansas City Star: Kansas Senate Rejects Health 'Freedom' Proposal
The chamber's eight Democrats were joined by six of the 32 Republicans to block it. One of them, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Owens of Overland Park, said lawmakers shouldn't tell voters that a state policy can protect them from a federal law (Hanna, 2/23).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: State To Close Program On Federal Health Law
A program created to help insurance-seekers in Texas cut through the complexities of federal health care reforms is shutting down in April, just 15 months after it opened its call center and years before the law goes into full effect. ...  federal financing was not renewed, and unlike some other states, Texas is not seeking alternative means to maintain its program (Tan, 2/23).

California Healthline: Pre-Reform Pressures Mount for California Hospitals
The California Hospital Association released a dire forecast for this year, predicting that most hospitals in the Golden State will face significant financial obstacles in 2012 and that some may be forced to close. According to the forecast, "California hospitals are facing pressures from every direction." The report cites the stalled economy, increasing dependence on government health insurance programs and implementation of the federal health reform law as the root of some of the most significant financial pressures (2/23). 

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