Feds offer positive signals about progress on health exchanges

USA Today reports that federal officials say the government is meeting deadlines, testing systems and putting the infrastructure in place to get these online insurance marketplaces up and running. Also, Modern Healthcare reports that the National Association of Health Underwriters is urging extensive training for the exchange navigators.

USA Today: U.S. Says It's On Track To Make Health Exchanges Work
The federal government has met its deadlines, tested its system and collected insurance plan information critical to rolling out the 2010 health care law, White House and other federal officials say, despite the rumors of train wrecks, delays and bare-bones health care exchanges rocking Washington (Kennedy, 5/9).

Modern Healthcare: Reform Update: More Training, Certification Urged For Navigators
Individuals who act as navigators assisting consumers in applying for health coverage through state insurance exchanges should have extensive training and exam-based certification, the trade association for brokers and agents has told the CMS. In comments submitted May 6 regarding a proposed CMS rule on standards for navigators and other assistance personnel, National Association of Health Underwriters Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jessica Waltman writes that navigators will also need recertification and that appropriate steps must be taken to guard against conflict-of-interest issues impacting navigators' work (Block, 5/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Four States That Snubbed Health Law Gaining Jobs From It
Four states that have snubbed the federal health law by defaulting to the federal government to build new online insurance marketplaces and not agreeing to expand Medicaid are getting new jobs at call centers that will help consumers understand their new coverage options this fall" (Galewitz, 5/10). Check out what else is on the blog.

In addition, news from California, Maryland, Idaho and Colorado -

Sacramento Bee: California Health Exchange Poised To Hand Out Millions In Outreach Grants
Tens of millions of dollars in outreach grants are set to be awarded next week in a massive campaign to persuade uninsured Californians to buy coverage as a linchpin in the looming health care overhaul. Applicants include community-based nonprofits, social service centers, huge labor unions and school districts - including Los Angeles Unified School District and Service Employees International Union, one of the state's largest health care unions (Sanders, 5/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Maryland To Allow Health Exchange Information Requests, Confidential, Financial Info Protected
Maryland will make information related to its health benefit exchange available through public information requests. But the state's Public Information Act does prevent disclosure of confidential commercial or financial information. Rebecca Pearce, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, says information that could cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the contractor would not be subject to the state's public information laws (5/9).

Politico: Idaho Ready To 'Beg, Borrow, Steal' For Exchanges
Can a state actually build an Obamacare health insurance exchange in six months? Idaho's about to find out -; with a little help from the feds. The newly formed Idaho exchange board and the federal exchange office have been talking about ways the state can remain in control of its exchange while borrowing pieces of the federal exchange's infrastructure. As interim Chairman Stephen Weeg puts it, Idaho is looking to "beg, borrow and steal" its way to the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment (Millman, 5/10).

Kaiser Health News: Colorado Exchange Board Spars Over Federal Funding
Here's the question making the rounds in Colorado: Is the state asking for enough start-up money from the federal government for its online health insurance marketplace? Consumer advocates are worried the answer is 'no.' Statehouse Republicans, on the other hand, think it's asking for far too much. Colorado exchange CEO Patty Fontneau is playing Goldilocks, saying the $125 million federal grant request she wants to send to Washington is just right (Whitney, 5/10).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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