States Scramble As Countdown Continues To The Launch Of Health Exchanges

The Washington Post reports that concerns are emerging that the tight deadline schedule has caused some states to take "shortcuts" regarding systems testing and contingency plans. But CNBC notes that the biggest threat to the success of these online insurance marketplaces may be consumers' lack of awareness.

The Washington Post: States Scramble To Get Health-Care Law's Insurance Marketplaces Up And Running
With a key deadline approaching, state officials across the country are scrambling to get the Affordable Care Act’s complex computer systems up and running, reviewing contingency plans and, in some places, preparing for delays. Oct. 1 is the scheduled launch date for the health-care law’s insurance marketplaces ... Some officials in charge of setting up the systems say that the tight deadlines have forced them to take shortcuts when it comes to testing and that some of the bells and whistles will not be ready (Kliff and Somashekhar, 8/24).

CNBC: Ignorance Of Obamacare Exchanges Threatens Plan's Success
With just 38 days to go before the opening of Obamacare insurance exchanges, public ignorance about those marketplaces remains sky-high, threatening the very goal of offering affordable health care to the uninsured, several studies show. And according to a troubling conclusion in at least one study earlier this year, awareness about the new health-care law had declined among some groups more than three years after Obamacare was signed. But whether knowledge is slipping or stagnantly low, health-care advocates are now in crunch mode (Mangan, 8/23).

Also in the news, updates about the implementation progress and outreach efforts in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, West Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota -

California Healthline: Exchange Accelerating Toward Deadline
At yesterday's meeting of the Covered California health benefit exchange board, exchange officials laid out an aggressive agenda that is seemingly coming together all at once. Highlights of the meeting included: Announcement of Fresno facility. Exchange officials said they signed a lease in Fresno for one of three central call centers, to handle eligibility and enrollment questions from Californians who might be interested in exchange coverage (Gorn, 8/23).

The Associated Press: A Look At Training Of Ill. Health Outreach Workers
Illinois outreach workers are learning about the nation's new health law as they work toward their certification as "in-person counselors." Once trained and certified, the counselors will help Illinois residents sign up for new insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Here are two hypothetical scenarios used in the training program, which was developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The scenarios have been slightly edited for length and readability (8/26).

Huffington Post: Kentucky Health Workers Pitch Obamacare At State Fair Alongside Corn Dogs, Fried Kool-Aid
A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare. The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers (Cherkis, 8/23).

Boston Globe: Health Law Coverage Can Be Tough Sell In Some States
Idealistic and motivated, the young organizers fanned out through a neighborhood of ranch houses on a scorching midsummer morning, eager to educate Texans on the benefits coming their way under President Obama’s health insurance law. They were armed with clipboards stacked with glossy ”Get Covered’’ brochures and a script on how best to approach their uninsured targets, whose addresses had been carefully mined from a national database. But a few hours spent with the team, from a nonprofit organization called Enroll America, illustrated the enormous challenges facing the White House and supporters of the health care overhaul in states like Texas, which is hostile country (Jan, 8/26).

The Associated Press: Attorney General Says W. Va. Not Ready For Health Care Rollout
West Virginia will have a "huge problem" in meeting an Oct. 1 deadline to begin open enrollment under the new federal health care reform law, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. Morrisey told the State Medical Association's annual conference on Saturday at The Greenbrier resort that federal delays will make it difficult to implement the Affordable Care Act in the state (8/25).

Bloomberg: Snyder Bets On Spurned Health Exchange To Help Detroit Retirees
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to reduce bankrupt Detroit’s costs by moving municipal retirees to insurance exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. His fellow Republicans, who dominate the legislature, aren’t making it easy (Christoff, 8/26).

Pioneer Press: Minnesota GOP Governor Hopefuls Would Scrap Health Exchange
On a scorching-hot Sunday at the Minnesota State Fair, three Republican candidates for governor pledged that, if elected, they would work to scrap the state's health insurance exchange that is scheduled to open in October. Predicting rising costs and burdensome government regulations, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Sen. Dave Thompson and state Rep. Kurt Zellers said during a candidate forum that they would try to close the new online marketplace for health insurance that's a key component of the federal law known as Obamacare that is intended to overhaul the nation's health system (Salisbury, 8/25).

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