Brianna Ehley,The Fiscal Times
"Obamacare’s technological nightmare might not be over yet.
Due to problems with the backend of the website, the Department of Health and Human Services reported last month that there were nearly 3 million inconsistencies on applications for health insurance. At the time, officials assured the public they were aggressively working to solve the problem.
But now, a new inspector general report reveals that nearly nine out of 10 erroneous applications have yet to be resolved, and the government isn’t really sure how to fix the problem.
The IG said the primary issues with the applications revolve around verifying citizenship status and income. Under the law, legally residing immigrants can receive subsidies, while undocumented residents cannot. Problems verifying income have also affected subsidy eligibility and the amount those who qualified have received. If enrollees received too much in subsidies, they will be required to pay them back through tax returns next year."
ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS, NY Times
"Some New Yorkers are in sticker shock after receiving notices from their insurance companies saying that they have asked for significant rate increases through the state’s health exchange next year.
The exchange, which has prided itself on being affordable, is now facing requests for increases as high as 28 percent for some customers of MetroPlus, a new entry to the individual insurance market and one of the least costly — and most popular — plans on the exchange this year."
Katie Kerwin McCrimmon
"Sicker patients have prompted Denver Health to ask for a 17.5 percent hike next year in health insurance rates while the biggest carrier in western Colorado, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, is working to keep rates flat in high-cost resort counties.
When Colorado’s insurance regulators unveiled proposed 2015 rates for health insurance last week, the numbers were all over the map. (Click here to read Consumers demand lower rates, universal care.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado's Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase.
"At least three health insurers plan to offer insurance statewide in Georgia’s exchange for 2015. This year, only one health plan – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia – went statewide in the exchange. And the proposed Blue Cross rates for next year’s exchange will decrease by an average of 7 percent. Those were among the immediate highlights of data on proposed premiums, released by Georgia’s department of insurance, from the health plans seeking to participate in the state’s exchange next year. A total of nine insurers are seeking to offer exchange plans in 2015. That’s up from five insurers for the current year."
Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman, Forbes
"Obamacare advocates in New York have had good reason to celebrate. In contrast to Oregon’s and other state-based exchanges, New York’s exchange rollout was a relatively smooth, successful affair. Indeed by the time open enrollment closed, nearly 1 million enrollees were notched— split between Medicaid (525,000) and private health insurance (370,000). Moreover, state officials estimate that some 80% of enrollees were previously uninsured.
Now for some cold water: New York still has a long way to go. While the state surpassed its first-year goal, total enrollment remains only around 30% of the total eligible population.
Moreover, New York State’s Medicaid program, already among the nation’s largest and most expensive, just grew by 10%. And 87% of the new Medicaid enrollees were eligible under New York’s generous, old rules. This means the state will be picking up 50% of the cost for much of this population—not the 10% headline rate for the newly eligible, childless adult population.
Drew Altman, Wall St. Journal
"The Supreme Court decision upholding Hobby Lobby’s ability to refuse to cover certain contraceptive services based on its owners’ religious beliefs has set off a wave of analysis of what the decision means. That will not be resolved anytime soon. But we do know what women think of the policy issue at the core of the case.
Overall, by a margin of 59% to 35%, women oppose the idea of letting companies deny coverage of contraceptives based on their owners’ religious beliefs. But women’s views on this issue–studied in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll last month–differ by party, ideology and their religion.
White evangelical protestants, conservatives and women who are Republican are more supportive of Hobby Lobby’s position. Women who are liberal, Democrats, and protestant and Catholic are much more likely to oppose the company’s position."
By Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News
"The Supreme Court’s decision Monday saying that “closely held corporations” do not have to abide by the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act may not give those firms the ability to stop providing that coverage after all.
More than half the states have “contraceptive equity” laws on the books that require most employers whose health insurance covers prescription drugs to also cover FDA-approved contraceptives as part of that package. Unlike the ACA, those laws do not require that coverage to be available without deductibles or co-pays."
Pauline Bartolone, Capital Public Radio
"SEATTLE — Washington State’s health insurance exchange is looking to be an attractive marketplace for new health insurance carriers, according to an early analysis of insurer premium rate filings by McKinsey & Company.
Four new insurers have applied to sell individual policies in the state’s exchange next year, making Washington among the states with the highest number of new exchange entrants of the 12 states where preliminary 2015 rates have been filed, according to McKinsey. If insurance regulators approve the new carriers, Washington will have 12 insurers on the exchange in 2015, up from eight participating this year.
Washington’s not the only state attracting new health insurance business. Michigan also has four new exchange applicants, and five new carriers have applied in Indiana, the state so far with the highest number of new insurance carriers showing interest, according to the real-time tracking of state insurance department rate filings that McKinsey is doing."
Robert Pear, New York Times
"WASHINGTON — An independent audit of insurance exchanges established under the health care law has found that federal and state officials did not properly check the eligibility of people seeking coverage and applying for subsidies, the latest indication of unresolved problems at HealthCare.gov.
In a report to Congress on Tuesday, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said that the exchanges, which enrolled eight million people, did not have adequate safeguards “to prevent the use of inaccurate or fraudulent information when determining eligibility.”
Moreover, in a companion report, the inspector general said that the government had been unable to verify much of the information reported by people applying for insurance coverage and financial assistance to help pay premiums."
Steven Northrup, Morning Consult
"Much has been written about the possibility that Republicans could win control of the Senate in the 2014 elections. In fact, some prognosticators have given Republicans a better-than-even-money shot at taking the Senate back. If Republicans keep the House and garner the net six seats necessary to win a Senate majority, what does that mean for health policy and politics in the next Congress? In particular, what does it mean for the continued implementation and expansion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare?
I hear these questions a lot, having served as the Republican health policy director for one of the key Senate health policy committees in 2006, the last time Republicans held a majority in both houses of Congress.