Healthcare

In order to accomplish these goals, states – and not the federal government – should be determining what health care system or model works best for their individual state.

At the State Government Leadership Foundation, we support access to affordable, common sense healthcare provided by the current healthcare industry. We are opposed to the over-reaching, government-run health care system that will demolish healthy competition, service quality and patient privacy. Consumers are better off when they control how their money is spent and have a broader choice of health care policies and plans. The SGLF supports healthcare reforms that protect providers from junk lawsuits, encourage innovative state programs, and promote healthier lifestyles. 

As one of the largest pieces of federal and state budgets, health care is an issue that the SGLF is deeply invested in. Due to the expansion of Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and other state and public health care programs, government is in control of a large part of the health sector. 

Our current system is flawed and change must come at both the federal and state levels. Individuals and families should be able to both own and control their own health care policies and take them with them from job to job without penalties. They should also be able to purchase these plans at a price they wish to pay and that are in line with their own needs. 

In order to accomplish these goals, states – and not the federal government – should be determining what health care system or model works best for their individual state.

Steps to creating a better health care system

1: Place Control and Money in Consumers’ Hands

  • Limit regulations
  • Provide better information to help patients and doctors make more informed treatment decisions

2: Align Expectations with Reality

  • Promote fiscally responsible competition within Medicare – bids against each other
  • Allow all plans greater flexibility to develop innovative plans

Additional Resources

Preventing Obesity and Its Consequences
Does Employer-Based Health Insurance Discourage Entrepreneurship and New Business Creation?
Hoover Institution Working Group on Health Care Policy

3: Create Accountability in the Health System

  • Provide better access to affordable private insurance
  • Reform medical liability system – limit malpractice awards

News & Articles

Small Firms Slow to Embrace ACA Business Exchanges

Written by Christine Vestal for Stateline on August 27, 2014Health Care
Unhappy with the choices her insurance broker was offering, Denver publishing company owner Rebecca Askew went to Colorado’s small business health insurance exchange last fall. She found exactly what she’d been hoping for: affordable insurance options tailored to the diverse needs of her 12 employees. But Askew is in a tiny minority. Only 2 percent of all eligible businesses have checked out so-called SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) exchanges in the 15 states where they have been available since last October under the Affordable Care Act. Even fewer purchased policies. In November, three more state-run SHOP exchanges are slated to open, and the federal government will unveil exchanges for the 32 states that chose not to run their own. SHOP exchanges were supposed to open nationwide on Oct. 1, the same day as exchanges offering health insurance for individuals. But the Obama administration postponed the SHOP launch, citing the need to fix serious technical problems with the exchanges for individuals, which it said were a higher priority.
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Some states propose compact to give them free hand in running health care programs

Written by DIANE STAFFORD for The Kansas City Star on August 26, 2014Health Care
Kansas, Missouri and seven other states have signed on to a movement that would wrest regulation of most of the nation’s health care insurance systems from the federal government. Those state legislatures want to be part of a proposed interstate Health Care Compact. The compact would let participating states use federal funds — in the form of block grants — to design and operate their own Medicare, Medicaid and other health care programs, except the military’s. Critics say the idea is unworkable and faces long political odds. Indeed, states need Congress to approve any interstate compact. But the movement has some traction, partly to air grievances with Obamacare and partly because of supporters’ belief that states individually would do a better job managing health programs and expenses.
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After hours of strife, lawmakers pass budget without Medicaid expansion

Written by LAURA VOZZELLA for The Washington Post on June 13, 2014Health Care
RICHMOND — The Virginia General Assembly adopted a long-delayed state budget late Thursday, acting after an hours-long debate among newly ascendant Senate Republicans who fought among themselves over whether the plan threw up sufficient barriers to Medicaid expansion. The Republicans, who gained control of the Senate Monday when a Democrat resigned from what had been an evenly split chamber, approved a spending deal hashed out by a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators. But they first amended it in a way intended to make it harder to expand the federal-state healthcare program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act — Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative priority. As midnight approached, the plan moved over for consideration by the House of Delegates, where it quickly passed. It was expected to then head to McAuliffe’s desk, but with no certainty that he would approve it and avert a government shutdown before July 1.
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Fewer Physicians Accepting Medicaid Patients

Written by Jerry Mitchell for Clarion Ledger on March 29, 2014Health Care
In the land of the poorest poor, less than half of Mississippi’s primary care physicians are willing to see new Medicaid patients. This contrasts with the nation as a whole, where more than two-thirds of doctors open their doors to new Medicaid patients. “Everything else is moot if you can’t get to a primary care physician,” said Mississippi State University social science professor Ronald Cossman, who along with others conducted the study of health care access in the Magnolia State. Fewer physicians accepting Medicaid patients is a tragedy that should disturb all in public office, said Dr. Tim Alford, a family physician in Kosciusko. “More and more Mississippians are working Mississippians, and we depend on them. A lot of these people are being thrown under the bus.” There are more than 5,000 doctors in Mississippi. Of those, 1,475 are primary care physicians, according to the Robert Grantham Center. There are even fewer offices, 678, according to the MSU study. 
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S.D. House rejects Medicaid expansion

Written by David Montgomery for The Argus Leader on February 24, 2014Health Care
PIERRE — On party lines, South Dakota's House of Representatives rejected Medicaid expansion Monday afternoon. The vote came as a Democratic amendment to an alternative health care bill. The amendment would have expanded Medicaid to South Dakotans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay for 90 percent or more of the cost of the Medicaid expansion. That means South Dakota would pay just a few million dollars right away for some $200 million in federal aid, though South Dakota's share would rise above $30 million by 2020. Democrats said that tradeoff was something lawmakers couldn't refuse. They also cited a study saying that infusion of federal dollars would boost South Dakota's economy, and thus lead to millions of dollars in extra tax revenue.
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Poll: Georgians skeptical of Obamacare

Written by ANDY MILLER for Athens Banner-Herald on December 15, 2013Health Care
Three in four Georgians say they’re satisfied with the overall value of their health care. But Georgians show concerns about the effects of the Affordable Care Act, said the poll of 400 residents released by Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Nearly half of respondents – 47 percent – expect the ACA will result in their paying more for health care, with just 11 percent saying they believe they will pay less. And they don’t see the law as helping improve the quality of medical care. Slightly more than half think the ACA won’t make a difference on quality, while 32 percent predict that it will lower quality. “It is not surprising that Georgians going forward believe or expect the worst regarding their personal health care experience,” said Gary Nelson, president of Healthcare Georgia Foundation. He noted that while most are satisfied with their health care now, many believe the cost will rise under the law. The survey results come at a time when the ACA is under siege from critics in the wake of technical problems with the federal health exchange website and the cancellation of many individual insurance policies.
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Colorado's health exchange finds new worries as deadlines loom closer

Written by Michael Booth for The Denver Post on December 09, 2013Health Care
Colorado's health exchange board expressed new worries Monday that end-of-the-year deadlines may leave some consumers without insurance coverage after Jan. 1. Even a recent uptick in enrollments has created problems for users of the exchange, where Coloradans may shop for health insurance under the new health-care law. The Connect for Health Colorado exchange is celebrating 1,000 new enrollments a day, but the high volume and long questions have pushed waiting times in the call queue to 25 minutes or more.

Board member Steve ErkenBrack said during a meeting Monday he worries about late-coming consumers who won't hear back about Medicaid or private insurance subsidies before Jan. 1, when their existing policy might expire. ErkenBrack pushed the board to seek waivers from the federal government on the Medicaid "denial" step. ErkenBrack, who heads Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction, also suggested the board and insurers could allow consumers sign up for policies now with an "escrow" account, then revert to Medicaid if they learn later they qualify for the free state-federal insurance. That would bridge any coverage gap with private policies that expire Dec. 31.
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McDonnell proposes $38 million for mental health

Written by Julian Walker for The Virginian-Pilot on December 09, 2013Health Care
In the wake of a recent tragedy, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed $38 million in additional mental health funding, some to increase patient capacity at Williamsburg's Eastern State Hospital, and created a new task force to recommend improvements for Virginia's mental health system. McDonnell announced those steps Tuesday morning during a State Capitol news conference held weeks after the son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds stabbed his father before taking his own life at their Bath County home last month.

Austin "Gus" Deeds, 24, reportedly received a mental health evaluation hours before that violent domestic episode but was released without further treatment when no hospital beds were found to accommodate him by the time an emergency custody order he was held under expired. The governor's proposals include extending the maximum duration of such orders from six to eight hours; increased funding so temporary detention orders for longer care last 72 hours instead of the current 48 hours; and money for expanding crisis intervention services to assist in holding people while placement is sought.
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Scope of NC Medicaid overhaul proposal changes

Written by GARY D. ROBERTSON for Associated Press on December 08, 2013Health Care
RALEIGH, N.C. — Several months ago, Gov. Pat McCrory's administration proposed a dramatic overhaul of what he's repeatedly called a "broken" Medicaid system — one beset annually by hundreds of millions of dollars in shortfalls. "Medicaid continues to be over budget and costs keep growing," said Mardy Peal, an adviser to state Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Aldona Wos. "It is clear to all of us — beneficiaries, providers and taxpayers — that Medicaid is an urgent and crucial matter before us."

But after criticism of the initial plan by medical providers and legislators, Wos' department has a scaled-back approach. Officials unveiled it to a small advisory panel meeting last week for the first time to try to build consensus on reform among lawmakers, the agency and interest groups. The updated plan is designed in part to allay concerns that the management of Medicaid could wind up in the hands of a few for-profit companies and would dismantle successful programs. The two representatives of the General Assembly — the body expected to have the most say on a final product — serving on the advisory group aren't settled yet on whether a wide or narrow path to stability in the $13 billion Medicaid program is best. Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, said he believes fellow Republicans in his chamber largely are more inclined to accept a broader Medicaid overhaul, citing how the program's financial troubles have prevented spending on other priorities, such as salary raises for teachers.
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Colorado's health-care exchange says members signing up at record pace

Written by Michael Booth for The Denver Post on December 05, 2013Health Care
Connect for Health Colorado exchange officials said Thursday they are signing up new members at a quickening pace that is "breaking records each day." The exchange, criticized for falling far short of its own enrollment projections, said it saw more than 1,000 new members sign up for health insurance on Wednesday. Officials said the total was the latest in a series of daily records; the exchange had been hoping people who previously set up accounts would finish their shopping and enroll in a plan for 2014. The previous high mentioned in the exchange's last news release was about 600 signups in a day.

The exchange is where Coloradans seeking insurance can shop for it under the new health-care law. It is separate from the troubled federal site that some states are using for enrollments. Exchange officials are releasing numbers more frequently now as their results improve. Previously the enrollment updates had been about every two weeks. Projections by the exchange staff and consultants put the mid-range of 2014 enrollees at 135,000 Colorado members; the total at the end of November, the second full month of enrollments, was about 10,000, well short of the lowest-case scenario for that month. The operating budget for the exchange, after federal grants are scheduled to taper off, relies on per-member fees to raise some of the revenue.
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Otter Asks Health Insurers to Reinstate Coverage

Written by Mychel Matthews for Magicvalley.com on December 04, 2013Health Care
BOISE • Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter asked Idaho health insurance carriers Tuesday to consider reinstating coverage for individuals and small businesses whose policies were terminated as a result of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “I’ve been hoping and waiting for this announcement,” said Kim Martin, health insurance agent for Select Health, Blue Shield and Pacific Source in Twin Falls. Soon after the launch of the ACA — commonly known as Obamacare — insurance carriers sent thousands of cancellation letters to customers whose policies did not meet “essential health benefits package standards” slated to be required of all plans on Jan. 1. In response to public outcry, Obama gave individual states the option of allowing carriers to temporarily reinstate those policies. Otter’s announcement came as a huge relief to Martin, who said about 60 percent of her clients received cancellation letters. “It’s pretty hard right now,” she said. “I’ve got some really scared people who don’t want to be without insurance.”
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Largest N.J. insurer axes minimal health plans

Written by LINDY WASHBURN for NorthJersey.com on November 27, 2013Health Care
Ninety thousand New Jersey residents next year will lose their low-cost bare-bones health plans issued by the state’s largest insurer – forcing them to purchase new Obamacare policies, possibly with subsidies, or pay a fine. The announcement by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey came just 90 minutes after Governor Christie said he would leave the decision about whether to renew all kinds of canceled health policies to the insurers, which President Obama said earlier this month they could do with state approval. Calling the Affordable Care Act “a mess,” Christie said, “New Jersey has decided to let the free market dictate the way forward.”

The most popular type of coverage for people who buy their own insurance — a so-called basic and essential plan — would have to be redesigned to do away with its $600 annual limit on preventive care, $700 limit on visits to doctors for illness and $500 limit on outpatient testing, according to the state Insurance Department. Such a redesigned plan “would cost substantially more,” Horizon said in a statement. “We do not consider that a viable option for our individual members.”
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Tracking the abysmal success rate of the federal health-care exchange

Written by JOSH HICKS for The Washington Post on November 25, 2013Health Care
The Affordable Care Act gave states the option of creating their own online health-insurance exchanges or defaulting to a federal site to help uninsured Americans obtain coverage before the law’s individual mandate kicked in. Generally, the states whose political leaders opposed the health-care legislation refused to develop their own exchanges, leaving uninsured residents to seek coverage on the federal site. With some well-documented technical problems plaguing the federal exchange, those resistant states are now faring worse on average than their compliant counterparts in terms of enrollment numbers. The Post used data from the Department of Health and Human Services to create an interactive graph that illustrates the numbers, including eligibility rates, application totals, and success rates for those who have tried to enroll through the various exchanges.
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Q&A: Sorting Out the Controversy Over Canceled Insurance Policies

Written by Michael Ollove and Christine Vestal for Stateline on November 22, 2013Health Care
As even casual observers know at this point, the Affordable Care Act is complicated by a combination of partisan politics, hobbled government websites, misinformation and the byzantine practices of the insurance industry. So it is with President Barack Obama’s seemingly straightforward request that consumers should be allowed to renew health insurance policies that their insurance companies canceled as the ACA required. Turns out, the president’s request is not so straightforward at all.

That is why, a week later, many state officials and insurance carriers are still wringing their hands over whether to comply with Obama’s request. Already, there have been some paradoxes. Some states that have always been on board with the president’s health reforms, such as Washington and New York, have declined the administration’s request and will not allow renewals of insurance policies that do not meet ACA standards. Meanwhile, other states that have been resolutely opposed to the president all along, such as Mississippi and Oklahoma, were already allowing those renewals.
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Medicaid expansion compromise unlikely

Written by SARAH PALERMO for The Concord Monitor on November 21, 2013Health Care
Republican leaders yesterday shut down the possibility of a compromise on Medicaid expansion being reached before a special session ends today. With no deal in sight by yesterday afternoon, “there are too many moving parts to try at the 11th hour and 59th minute,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro. “There’s been an opportunity lost in the special session, I’m afraid,” he said. Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, said she was open to continuing negotiations but was told by Republican leadership that those efforts would be to no avail. “I got told today this is too difficult and nothing is happening at the moment,” she said in a meeting with reporters.

The two sides differ on the question of when and how the state should expand the program, which is authorized by the federal Affordable Care Act. The federal law contains full funding for three years of health coverage for all adults ages 19-64 earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, or about $16,000 for a single person. That funding would gradually drop to 90 percent by 2020 and thereafter, though Republicans doubt any of the federal funding promises can be met and fear the expansion will expose the state to millions of dollars in liability. About 58,000 people in the state would be eligible. Democrats want to use the federal funding to offer premium assistance starting Jan. 1 to people with access to insurance through their employers, and give the rest of the eligible group coverage through the state’s managed care Medicaid program from Jan. 1 until January 2016, then move people onto the private insurance bought on the federal insurance marketplace.
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Insurance commissioners raise concerns about healthcare fix with Obama

Written by ROBERTA RAMPTON AND LEWIS KRAUSKOPF for Reuters on November 20, 2013Health Care
(Reuters) - State insurance commissioners told President Barack Obama on Wednesday that his effort to stem a wave of insurance cancellations caused by his signature healthcare law could lead to higher premiums. Obama met with representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to discuss the "fix" he came up with last week to calm the uproar surrounding millions of cancellation notices sent to holders of individual health insurance policies no longer legal under the healthcare law, known as Obamacare.

While taking responsibility for the troubled rollout of his law and apologizing for the promises he made that were not being kept, Obama sought last week to address the problem of canceled plans by giving insurers the option to extend them By one year, even if they did not meet minimum standards under the law. The insurance market in the United States is heavily regulated at the state level. While individual state commissioners have no legal obligation to go along with Obama's wishes, the White House move effectively put the onus on them for cancellations caused by the administration's law.
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EXCLUSIVE: New SC medical database could improve care, reduce costs

Written by ANDREW SHAIN for The State on November 17, 2013Health Care
COLUMBIA, SC — A consortium of S.C. universities and hospital systems has started using a database with medical information on millions of patients statewide that they hope can develop better — and less expensive — treatment plans. The $15 million Clinical Data Warehouse is housed at Clemson University and operated by Health Sciences South Carolina in Columbia. Money for the project came from the Duke Endowment, which has given the group $31 million over the past decade. The warehouse has operated since September, but a group of three research universities and three hospital systems will unveil the project to the public Monday. Doctors and university researchers hope using the data, which belongs to 3.2 million patients who have been through 25.3 million medical diagnoses since 2011, can help change how South Carolinians receive medical treatment before they fall severely ill. “It’s a complete shift,” said Tripp Jennings, systems vice president for Palmetto Health in Columbia, one of the partners in Health Sciences South Carolina. “Our history has been sick care. Now, we’re really trying to get to health care.”
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D.C. insurance commissioner fired a day after questioning Obamacare fix

Written by Aaron C. Davis for The Washington Post on November 16, 2013Health Care
A day after he questioned President Obama’s decision to unwind a major tenet of the health-care law and said the nation’s capital might not go along, D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White was fired. White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday. White said the mayoral deputy never said that he was being asked to leave because of his Thursday statement on health care. But he said the timing was hard to ignore. Roughly 24 hours later, White said, he was “basically being told, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ ”

White was one of the first insurance commissioners in the nation last week to push back against Obama’s attempt to smooth over part of the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act: millions of unexpected cancellations of insurance plans. In persuading Congress to vote for the health-care overhaul, Obama had promised that Americans who liked their insurance plans would be able to keep them. When that turned out to not be the case, Obama apologized last week. And to stem growing bipartisan dissent, he announced Thursday that plans slated to be canceled next year to comply with the legislation could be extended for one year.
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Many state businesses have made arrangements for next year's health care coverage

Many of those who might have faced canceled policies to their plans — because the policies didn't meet new standards under the health reform laws — renewed coverage early to take advantage of a grace period.

Written by Paula Burkes for The Oklahoman on November 15, 2013Health Care
Many people and small businesses in Oklahoma won't sweat the details of President Barack Obama's transition relief aimed at helping people and companies from losing health coverage. Thanks to negotiations between the Oklahoma Insurance Department and the state's biggest insurers, many of those who would have faced canceled policies to their plans — because the policies didn't meet new standards under the health reform laws — renewed coverage early to take advantage of a grace period, ending Dec. 1, 2014. Oklahoma City-based Amundsen Food Equipment, which employs 25, already agreed to pay 5 percent more to renew its plan for a 14-month period, President Cary Amundsen said.

“Our people like our plan, and love that we pay for most of the premiums. But we've made known to them that if and when the premiums go dramatically up as predicted, the company will be forced to increase employee participation rates or possibly drop the company-funded plan altogether,” he said. Likewise, employee benefits consultant Cher Bumps said she's moved many group plans to a Dec. 1 renewal versus Jan. 1, so they can defer for 11 months the estimated increased costs of 20 percent to 50 percent. However, employers starting Jan. 1 will have to pay about 3.5 percent more in premiums to fund fees and taxes under the Affordable Care Act, she said.
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Fewer than 400 Utahns able to shop Obamacare exchange

Affordable Care Act » Secretary Sebelius pledges to have the Web portal working ‘‘for most users’’ by the end of the month.

Written by Kirsten Stewart And Matt Canham for The Salt Lake Tribune on November 13, 2013Health Care
Roughly 106,000 Americans have been able to find coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s online health exchange — including 357 Utahns, the Obama administration revealed Wednesday. Thousands more — 975,407 in the U.S. and 9,318 in Utah — have completed applications and received a determination about their eligibility for subsidies, but have not yet picked a plan. An additional 396,261, including 4,816 in Utah, have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The figures are numerical proof of the technical problems faced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in launching the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Nearly 75 percent of those able to pick a health plan did so through state-run exchanges. Utah’s exchange for individuals and families is run by federal officials. Even saying that 357 Utahns picked a plan through HealthCare.gov is a stretch, said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who noted the administration is counting both those who paid for the first month of their insurance and those who didn’t.
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Only 346 Oklahomans have selected an 'Obamacare' health insurance plan

Written by Jaclyn Cosgrove for NewsOK on November 13, 2013Health Care
Only 346 Oklahomans have selected a health insurance plan over the past month through the federal health insurance marketplace, according to federal government data released Wednesday. The marketplace, available on HealthCare.gov, was created through the  Affordable Care Act, also referred to as “Obamacare.” On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the first month of data for the Health Insurance Marketplace initial open enrollment.
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Health insurance cancellation notices go out to 8,800 in W.Va.

Written by Zack Harold for The Charleston Daily Mail on November 13, 2013Health Care
CHARLESTON, W.Va.--About 8,800 West Virginia residents stand to lose their health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act's new requirements for insurance plans. The health care reform law, passed in 2010, requires U.S. citizens to enroll in health insurance but also includes a list of requirements for health insurance plans. Insurance providers must cancel or change plans that don't meet those requirements. Policyholders are eligible for new plans through the government's health insurance marketplace, although that website has suffered crippling technical problems since its launch last month.

Policy cancellations largely affect individuals who purchase their own health insurance plans. According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, the state Offices of the Insurance Commissioner have received about 8,800 discontinuation notices for individual insurance plans. Most of those people -- about 8,600 -- are insured through Highmark West Virginia. President Obama, in his attempts to sell the Affordable Care Act to the American public and lawmakers, frequently insisted people who liked their current health care plans could keep them.
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Alaska Medicare beneficiaries targeted in Affordable Care Act scam

Written by Laurel Andrews for Alaska Dispatch on November 07, 2013Health Care
A nationwide scam targeting Medicare beneficiaries has been ramping up in Alaska, state officials report. The Alaska Medicare office has received seven or eight calls reporting a scam that revolves around the Affordable Care Act. Two of those reports were received on Wednesday, state Medicare fraud education coordinator Nila Morgan said. The reports come mainly from Anchorage, and one came from Southeast Alaska. Morgan added that for every person who calls and reports a scam, there are likely many more who are contacted and do not report it. “These scams kind of go in waves,” said Davyn Williams, assistant attorney general in the consumer protection unit, “but it sounds like it really picked up a lot.”

The increase prompted the department of law to issue a consumer alert Wednesday warning the public of the Medicare scam, along with a general overview of Affordable Care Act scams. Scammers call beneficiaries claiming they will need new Medicare cards due to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  Scammers then ask for personal information, Medicare numbers and bank account information. Reports allege that scammers are bullying beneficiaries, “using harassment, abusive conduct, and false threats to cut off Medicare benefits,” a consumer alert issued Wednesday states. Some people have received multiple calls from scammers. One Alaskan "caught by surprise" by the scammers gave them banking information, Morgan said, and then realized something fishy was going on.
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CT Health Exchange Taking Bids To Work Around Federal Failure

Written by Dan Haar for The Hartford Courant on November 05, 2013Health Care
Access Health CT, tired of seeing its Connecticut Obamacare exchange held hostage by the balky federal system, is taking bids this week from outside contractors that would verify customers' identities — a key function within the federal system that caused two nationwide shutdowns last week. The move by Access Health CT, operator of the state marketplace for health plans, shows that the agency does not have faith in a glitch-free federal system going forward. "What we're looking for is a stronger contingency plan," said Jim Wadleigh, chief information officer at Access Health CT. "Our hope is to do this as quickly as possible." Wadleigh said the cost of the private outsourcing, not yet determined, will be part of the $45 million systems budget the federal government gave Connecticut to build its own system. So the feds are paying for a fix to go around their own questionable system.
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State health exchanges are showing mixed results

Written by PAIGE WINFIELD CUNNINGHAM for Politico on November 05, 2013Health Care
On the Obamacare racetrack, Washington, Kentucky and New York are leading the pack. Relatively free of the technical problems that have plagued the federally run insurance exchanges — but still encumbered by some glitches of their own — the 15 state-run exchanges tell a varied story. Some states are charging ahead on enrollment while others have run up against roadblocks. The leader on enrollments, so far: Washington state, with nearly 49,000 enrollees in exchange plans and Medicaid as of Monday. The state has been a leader in setting up its exchange all along, and officials say the swell of enrollments has allowed them to identify the biggest website problems early on.

The problems have ranged from error codes to difficulties reconciling state tax records with the federal government, said Washington exchange spokesman Michael Marchand. Those problems are being fixed through regular overnight weekend maintenance which will most likely continue through the beginning of December, he said. The state has set a goal of 130,000 enrollees in exchange health plans and a quarter-million new Medicaid enrollees by Jan. 1. But while things seem to be going well, officials aren’t celebrating too soon.
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