John Wilkerson, Inside Health Policy
"Governors suggest in a new report that states consider easing restrictions on physician assistants to help deal with swelling Medicaid rolls. The National Governors Association says states should consider including PAs in the definition of "provider," loosening so-called scope-of-practice laws to let physicians delegate more tasks to PAs, opening clinical training sites and encouraging PAs to work in primary care.
"To increase the use of the physician assistant workforce, states should review the laws and regulations affecting the profession and consider actions to increase the future supply of PAs," an NGA release states."
Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
"Insurers Cigna and Blue Shield of California misled consumers about the size of their networks of doctors and hospitals, leaving enrollees frustrated and owing large bills, according to two lawsuits filed this week in Los Angeles.
“As a result, many patients were left without coverage in the course of treatment,” said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based advocacy group that filed the case.
Both cases allege that the insurers offered inadequate networks of doctors and hospitals and that the companies advertised lists of participating providers that were incorrect. Consumers learned their doctors were not, in fact, participating in the plans too late to switch to other insurers, the suits allege, and patients had to spend hours on customer service lines trying to get answers. Both cases seek class action status."
Nick Budnick, Oregonian
"Officials at Cover Oregon have realized the number of people affected by tax credit errors is much larger than previously thought -- meaning they may owe money at tax time.
Early this month, The Oregonian revealed the existence of the erroneous formula, which had to do with the tax credits used by qualified individuals to reduce their premiums. Cover Oregon first noted the formula was wrong in January, but correcting it took a back seat to fixing the exchange's technological problems, officials said."
Noam Levey, LA Times
"The Obama administration, which is scrambling to prepare a new push to enroll Americans in health coverage under the federal health law, is reassessing how many more people will sign up, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday..
About 7.3 million people are enrolled in health plans being sold through marketplaces created this year by the Affordable Care Act, according to federal figures."
Inside Health Policy
"Several unions want the Labor Department to broadly authorize employer-sponsored "wraparound" coverage for workers to supplement their exchange plan benefits and subsidies, according to comments on a rule that is currently being reviewed by the White House.
Under a little-noticed proposed rule the Labor Department issued on Dec. 24, the Obama administration proposed to treat as "excepted benefits" certain limited coverage provided by employers that would wrap around an individual market policy. If the wraparound coverage meets a number of requirements, it's considered an excepted benefit and would not disqualify the employee from getting subsidized coverage on the exchanges. While unions generally supported the concept, many complained that the parameters the administration proposed would prevent lower wage employees from having access to the coverage and they are the ones that would benefit most."
Inside Health Policy
"CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Thursday (Sept. 18) pledged the agency would conduct full "end-to-end" testing of healthcare.gov prior to the launch of open enrollment in November, likely either by the end of this month or early October. Tavenner also told members of Congress that the site will see continued improvement but will not be perfect in year two.
The comments came during a sometimes fiery House oversight committee hearing that focused on the security of the exchange website, which took place shortly after the Government Accountability Office released a report finding that healthcare.gov continues to be vulnerable to breaches. On Wednesday, Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a scathing report on the run-up to the launch of the site that highlighted staff concerns about security, attempts to cover-up the reasons behind the failed launch, and a disconnect between HHS and CMS staff."
Jim Angle, Fox News
"President Obama’s claim last spring that 8 million people had enrolled in ObamaCare recently got a significant downgrade from the head of the agency overseeing the plan.
Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a congressional committee that "as of August 15, this year, we have 7.3 million Americans enrolled in Health Insurance Marketplace coverage and these are individuals who paid their premiums.""
Elise Viebeck, The Hill
"A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit over the delay of ObamaCare's employer mandate, a sign that a similar challenge in the works by House Republicans might not fare well.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue, and only parties "seeking to advance the interests" of the mandate could mount a "plausible" case against its delay."
Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today
"The federal health insurance website is trying to resolve glitches and security questions raised by the Government Accountability Office, so people can safely and successfully sign up for insurance at open enrollment Nov. 15.
Much of the Obama administration's success in enrolling 8.1 million people in health insurance over the past year was overshadowed by the momentous problems with HealthCare.gov and several state exchanges. As administration officials prepare to test the site with insurers Oct. 7, they're trying to manage expectations while portraying some confidence.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told a House panel Thursday that there will be "visible improvement, but not perfection" on HealthCare.gov.":
Arielle Levin Becker
"Costs to buy coverage through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange won’t, on average, rise much next year. For some plans, the prices are dropping.
But some customers who get financial aid to buy their insurance could see price increases beyond the rise in sticker price if they stick with their current plans, according to an analysis by consultants for the exchange, Access Health CT.
As a result, some people might find lower prices by considering different plans, even if they bought the cheapest plan available this year, according to the analysis by Wakely Consulting Group."