Feds Launch 'Full Throttle' Effort To Expand Health Coverage

The Department of Health and Human Services redesigns its website as part of its campaign to raise awareness about the health law's requirement that most people carry insurance. Meanwhile, a U.S. appeals judge temporarily blocks the government from forcing a Christian publisher to comply with its mandate to cover all birth control options.

USA Today: New Website Part Of Push For Uninsured To Get Coverage
The federal government Wednesday kicks off an effort to raise awareness about the most controversial part of the health care law — the requirement that the uninsured buy health care insurance. Wednesday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to relaunch its website to try to draw in the millions of uninsured people needed to make the health care law work when open enrollment in state and federal health care exchanges begins in October (Kennedy, 1/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: US Appeals Judge's Ruling Allowing Religious Publisher To Reject Contraceptive Coverage
The Obama administration is appealing a judge's order that is temporarily preventing the government from forcing a Christian publishing company to provide its employees with certain contraceptives under the new health care law (1/15).

Meanwhile, states continue to wrestle with decisions regarding health exchanges and the Medicaid expansioin--

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Health Exchange Needs Army Of Navigators To Aid Customers
Colorado’s health insurance exchange has morphed from a Travelocity-style self-service website to an online interface with in-person navigators slated to help hundreds of thousands of customers choose from an array of complex health plans. The most vexing questions now are if there will be enough navigators and who will pay them to avoid conflicts of interest. New surveys of potential health exchange clients released Monday found customers want simple TurboTax-style guidance, help from people in their communities whom they trust and side-by-side comparisons of complex health plans. Doubts are surfacing, however, about how exchange managers will be able create this system by Oct. 1 and how they can avoid having navigators or health insurance brokers steer clients to plans that financially benefit the workers or health systems they represent (Kerwin McCrimmon, 1/15).

The Associated Press: AG Jim Hood Says Insurance Coommissioner Mike Chaney Can Set Up Health Exchange
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has the authority to establish and manage a health insurance exchange, according to a legal opinion released late Tuesday by the state attorney general's office. Exchanges are online marketplaces where people can shop for insurance. Under the federal health law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010, every state is required to set up an exchange. States that don't create their own will have one run by Washington (1/15).

The Seattle Times: McKenna Obamacare Gesture Draws Attention
Outgoing Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined an unsuccessful lawsuit against President Obama’s health-care overhaul, appeared to show support for the law during Gov. Chris Gregoire’s farewell speech Tuesday. McKenna’s gesture was small — he stood along with a group of mostly Democrats to applaud a reference to the law, while most other Republicans stayed seated and silent (1/15).

The Associated Press: Study: Medicaid Expansion A Boon To Ohio At First
Ohio stands to make $1.4 billion over the next decade by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but the savings would eventually drop and just about break even as the state's costs increase, according to a study released Tuesday (Seewer, 1/5).

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