Short Cuts: HCgov CEO talks "Denny's Grand Slam"; NH premiums DROP 15%; HHS tech improvement call has tech problem

It looks like my "Denny's Grand Slam" Halbig/King workaround is being seriously mulled over by TPTB, although I'm sure it'd be more like a Filet Mignon kind of a thing in practice:

COUNIHAN HEDGES ON EXCHANGE TRANSITIONS — CEO Kevin Counihan told state insurance regulators Monday that there are “a number of good options” for states currently using the federal website but interested in transitioning to run their own exchange. But when asked whether the agency is considering workarounds to make it easier for exchanges to be considered state-based rather than federal-run, Counihan said that thinking “is above my pay grade.” That question has become a lot more pressing now that the Supreme Court could potentially block federal subsidies to federal-run exchanges next year in the King v. Burwellcase. The deadline for states to apply for exchange establishment grants from HHS passed a few days ago.

Average health insurance premiums will be 15 percent lower in New Hampshire next year under the federal health care program, almost the biggest such decline of any state in the country.

You can thank competition, said Caroline Pearson, vice president of health-care research firm Avalere Health, which analyzed premiums around the country.

  • As an aside: I'm afraid it's not such a pretty picture in Alaska, where some policies are indeed shooting up as much as 37% in some cases.

OK, this one is kind of a cheap shot, but without laughter, what do we have?

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell was speaking in Houston at 11 a.m. Central time. Local reporters could attend in person and others could phone in.

After a 40-minute hold (although with better-than-average hold music), USA TODAY emailed two HHS press spokespeople asking what the problem was.

Meghan Smith apologized and said “there was a technical issue and it didn’t work.”