Purging the In Box 3: ACA Stories I don't have time to do full write-ups on

Maryland officials say about 9,000 people have browsed for health insurance plans so far on the state's newly designed health care exchange website.

Carolyn Quattrocki, the exchange director, said Monday the website is working smoothly, and officials are pleased with the number of people who have started shopping. It opened on Saturday, ahead of Sunday's scheduled opening.

An architect of ObamaCare on Tuesday said he regretted his 2013 comment that a "lack of transparency" and the "stupidity of the American voter" helped Congress pass the healthcare law.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber made his first public comments on MSNBC after conservative media unearthed a video clip over the weekend of him discussing the healthcare law.

"The comments in the video were made at an academic conference," Gruber said on "Ronan Farrow Daily." "I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments."

Gruber was speaking on a panel last year when he suggested that ObamaCare passed because lawmakers and voters did not understand how its financing worked.

Starting today, we can all window shop the 2015 Obamacare plans, which will go on sale on Saturday on HealthCare.gov.

So I did exactly that, taking a look at the plans available in Marion County. I shopped for a fairly typical family for Indiana: two parents aged 35 and 32, two kids aged 4 and 0, household income of $70,000, which is exactly average for Hoosier households with two working-age adults.

Republican lawmakers are calling for the state to scrap Vermont Health Connect and join the federal health care exchange, but the implications of such a move are unclear.

Vermont Health Connect has never worked properly and is currently propped up by a number of manual processes. It was taken offline in mid-September, but is expected to relaunch Saturday for open enrollment, a three-month period in which consumers can buy or renew health insurance.

Kevin Counihan knows he has a lot at stake this month.

As chief executive of HealthCare.gov, Mr. Counihan is responsible for making sure the site doesn’t falter during the second year of insurance sign-ups under the Affordable Care Act. Its disastrous launch last year embarrassed the Obama administration and frustrated millions who visited the portal to buy health plans.

Connecticut’s uninsured rate stands at 4 percent — reflecting a 50 percent drop since implementation of health care reform. Fifty-four percent of the 256,666 people who enrolled in private plans and Medicaid though AHCT during last year’s enrollment period were previously uninsured. Access to the exchange also narrowed racial disparities among state residents with health insurance — 26 percent of private health plan enrollees and 44 percent of Medicaid enrollees were black or Hispanic. Three-quarters of all enrollees have used their insurance since signing up, with seven in 10 stating they have a primary care doctor.

Here’s what consumers need to know to make informed decisions about their 2015 coverage.

Officials say HealthCare.gov has gotten cybersecurity upgrades ahead of a Nov. 15 start for the second open enrollment season under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Andy Slavitt oversees the complex technology. Slavitt says the facility that hosts HealthCare.gov is now certified to meet rigorous government standards for cloud computing. Cloud operations use large networks of machines in different locations to handle data.

President Barack Obama has chosen Kentucky's lieutenant governor as his liaison to state and local governments, bringing an official experienced in successfully implementing his health care law to the White House as the second open enrollment period is set to kick off.

Gov. Peter Shumlin will likely hold onto the governorship, but many say this election was a referendum on his tenure, and he will be much weakened by his close contest with Republican Scott Milne.

Richter acknowledges that Shumlin's influence will be diminished, but she doesn't see the election as a rejection of single-payer.

All told, the exchange is offering 40 individual and small group plans next year, up from 28 this year, and it is adding United Healthcare to its list of carriers, which now includes Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.

The policy of having individuals enroll again was a deliberate choice, said Dara Chadwick, spokeswoman for the exchange, formally known as HealthSource RI.

While the exchange could have opted for automatic re-enrollment, Chadwick said officials “wanted to ensure that all Rhode Islanders made the best decision for their health-care needs by evaluating the new plans, options and prices for 2015.”