Liz Hamel, Jamie Firth, Bianca DiJulio and Mollyann Brodie, Kaiser Health News
"In the final Kaiser Health Tracking Poll before the 2014 midterm elections in November, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be just one of several issues on voters’ minds. Less than 1 in 10 registered voters (8 percent) identify the ACA as the most important issue to their vote, ranking 5th behind the economy (16 percent), dissatisfaction with government (12 percent), education (10 percent) and the situation in Iraq and Syria (9 percent). The ACA ranks 4th for Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Just over half of voters say they’re tired of hearing Congressional candidates talk about the ACA and wish they would move on to other issues, while 44 percent say they want candidates to continue the discussion. Meanwhile, as campaigns make their final appeal to voters, 6 in 10 report seeing political advertising related to the ACA, with more saying they have seen mostly negative advertising about the ACA rather than mostly positive."
"Last spring, John* purchased health insurance through the Washington State healthcare exchange. He was surprised when, last month, he received an email from the exchange at the address he’d provided when he signed up. The email was entitled, “Voter Registration Information.”
It read, in part:
“ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE? If you would like to register to vote or
update your information, visit the Washington Secretary of State
website at https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/myvote?Org=confidHBE&language=en”
“I did think it was an effort to [register voters] for the Democrat party,” says John, a union member for the better part of four decades.
He wasn’t the only healthcare exchange customer to get the voter registration email."
Nick Budnick, The Oregonian
"State officials have given up on trying to salvage a portion of the troubled Cover Oregon technology project, essentially abandoning all hope of getting any lasting benefit from the $240 million paid Oracle America on the health insurance exchange and related work.
Instead, Oregon will look to use successful technology built by another state, and is trying to determine which one."
J.D. Harrison, Washington Post
"One year in, the new small-business insurance marketplaces born out of the new federal health-care law have fallen short of their promise in nearly every state, both in terms of functionality and enrollment. However, many are scheduled to see some important updates heading into year two — ones that health officials say should make them much more useful and appealing to small employers and their workers.
In the nation’s capital, for example, officials are preparing to roll out the third major update to the District of Columbia’s health-care marketplace, which already houses one of the country’s most robust small-business exchanges, often called SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) exchanges. District small businesses have already been able to shop for and select plans online — an option that was delayed by at least a year in most states."
Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
"Aiming to contain health care costs, a growing number of employers and insurers are adopting a strategy that limits how much they’ll pay for certain medical services such as knee replacements, lab tests and complex imaging. A recent study found that savings from such moves may be modest, however, and some experts question whether “reference pricing,” as it’s called, is good for consumers.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which administers the health insurance benefits for 1.4 million state workers, retirees and their families, has one of the more established reference pricing systems. More than three years ago, the agency began using reference pricing for elective knee and hip replacements, two common procedures for which hospital prices varied widely without discernible differences in quality, says Ann Boynton, CalPERS’ deputy executive officer for Benefit Programs Policy and Planning."
Kaiser Health News
"Health law? What health law?
Almost nine of 10 uninsured Americans – the group most likely to benefit — don’t know that the law’s second open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, according to a poll released Tuesday. Two-thirds of the uninsured say they know “only a little” or “nothing at all” about the law’s online insurance marketplaces where they can buy coverage if they don’t get it through their jobs. Just over half are unaware the law might give them financial help to buy coverage, according to a new poll.
Despite that lack of awareness, nearly 60 percent of those uninsured people say they plan to get coverage in the next few months, including 15 percent who say they’ll get it through an employer, 15 percent who say they’ll purchase it themselves and 8 percent who expect to get it through Medicaid."
Eric Pianin and Brianna Ehley, Financial Times
"With the new Obamacare enrollment period scheduled to begin on November 15, here’s an intriguing question: If you’re one of the rare Americans to have the misfortune of contracting Ebola, can you apply for a new insurance policy on one of the government-run health exchanges without being rejected?
Currently, only four people are being treated for Ebola in the United States, and a few hundred who may have been exposed to it are either being monitored or have been notified – so this is an extremely unusual situation. Still, while no insurance company would relish the prospects of taking on a consumer suffering from one of the worst viruses to occur in today’s modern world, the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from turning down applicants with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, or even – yes – Ebola."
Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan criticized the O'Malley administration Monday over its decision to delay a lawsuit against the contractor it has blamed for the failed launch of the state's health exchange web site. .
Hogan, locked in a battle with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown with two weeks to go before Election Day, accused the administration of putting politics ahead of the taxpayers by delaying court action against Noridian Healthcare Solutions."
Sarah Hurtubise, Daily Caller
"The Obama administration has funded a new study by top consulting firm RAND Health that startlingly finds that if taxpayer subsidies are eliminated, Obamacare exchanges will fall into a “death spiral.”
The study comes in the wake of a number of lawsuits which are challenging the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare subsidies. Three lawsuits have made it to U.S. Circuit Courts, just one step from the Supreme Court, arguing that the text of the Affordable Care Act allows premium subsidies for state-run exchanges only. (RELATED: Second Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies In Federal Exchanges)"
Nick Budnick, The Oregonian
"More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe a combined $1.12 million at tax time because of errors in subsidized premiums issued by the health insurance exchange.
The vast majority of people affected are expected to owe no more than $10 per month that their policy was in effect. That figure is not final, however, because a $10,000 consultant's study intended to settle the question did not succeed. The exchange is planning to commission a second, more in-depth study."