Exchange Implementation: News From The White House And The Field

Politico reports that the Obama administration is facing challenges as it moves into a critical time implementing the health law. Meanwhile, a contract is awarded for a call center to handle questions about the health exchanges run by the federal government.

Politico: Obamacare 2.0: Shaky Like 1.0
Obamacare fires are flaring up all over — in Hill hearings, in scary headlines about big rate hikes and in closed-door meetings of nervous Democrats. The White House response: We'll get to that (Nather, 4/26).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Vangent Gets $28 Million Contract For Health Marketplace Call Center
The federal government has awarded a $28.2 million contract to a General Dynamics subsidiary to run a call center to handle consumer questions about the new online insurance marketplaces that are slated to begin selling insurance policies Oct. 1 (Galewitz, 4/26).

News outlets also report on exchange implementation news around the country -

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio's Health-Insurance Exchange A Mystery
In five months, Ohio's health-insurance exchange will enroll the first of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans for coverage that takes effect on Jan. 1. By Oct. 1, the federal government will have to prepare the online marketplace, which a state-commissioned report estimated will serve 540,000 Ohioans by 2017. And in Ohio and 33 other states that opted for federally run or partnership exchanges instead of setting up their own, there won't be much money from the federal government to help get the word out (Sutherly, 4/28).

The Lund Report: Regence And Health Net Take Different Approach To Exchange
Oregon's health insurance exchange is about to take a decisive step forward next Tuesday. That's when health insurers must file their proposed rates for individual and small group coverage with the Insurance Division. Those rates will be made public May 10, and public hearings have already been scheduled starting in late May. Lou Savage, the state's insurance commissioner, is optimistic the highly competitive health insurance market will help keep prices low. … Next year, Cover Oregon projects that 160,500 individuals, including 55,000 uninsured and 56,900 employers will join the exchange, and start signing up in October (Lund-Muzikant, 4/26).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State's Hospitals, Key Republican Concerned Federal Insurance Pools May Be Delayed
The state's hospitals -- and a key Republican senator -- say the state should consider slowing down Gov. Scott Walker's plan to shift tens of thousands of patients out of state coverage and into the federal health care program next year. Walker's plan still has strong support in the GOP-controlled Legislature, but the Wisconsin Hospital Association and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) point to growing concerns that there could be delays in setting up the online insurance marketplaces called for under President Barack Obama's federal health care law (Stein, 4/28).

Des Moines Register: Official Navigating Health Law
Nick Gerhart knew what he was taking on when he agreed last year to become Iowa’s insurance commissioner. Gerhart, 37, stepped into the middle of a national storm over health care. His main assignment this year will be to educate Iowans on what they can expect when a blizzard of new health-insurance regulations take effect next year, and to help prepare a new electronic system consumers and small businesses can use to buy policies. The soft-spoken former life insurance company executive expects the turmoil to last a while (Leys, 4/28).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.