health care

 

The agency charged with managing health care for Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens misspent millions of taxpayer dollars and failed to keep up as the state’s Medicaid caseload nearly doubled. 

Megan Farmer / KUOW Photo

This week insurance companies in Washington announced their 2018 rates for individual health plans. On average, prices are going up 36 percent.

Some experts say it didn't have to be this high.

Of the roughly 330,000 Washingtonians who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the majority will have to pay more next year. About 70,000 low income people will be protected from the rate increases because they are eligible for federal subsidies.

If you buy individual health insurance through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange get ready for sticker shock. Rates will go up by an average of 24 percent next year.

People who buy individual health insurance in Washington state can expect another round of rate hikes next year.

“I’d say double-digit [increases] are almost a certainty,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in an interview Thursday on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

 

Opponents of the Republican health care bill are taking actions to keep it from passing. The bill includes things like limiting money for Medicaid--the program that helps low-income people pay for medical services.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The healthcare bill revealed by Senate Republicans today would limit Medicaid spending, among other things. That's one reason Washington's insurance chief is calling the measure "very problematic".

Oregon lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a tax increase meant to ensure continued health care coverage for low-income Oregonians. The $670 million package raises an existing tax on hospital revenue and enacts a new tax on some health insurance premiums.

McMorris Rodgers Skips, Takes Heat in Spokane Town Hall

May 10, 2017
Doug Nadvornick / SPR

Congress is in recess and that means town hall meetings back in the district. The progressive group Fuse Washington held what it billed as a “health care town hall” at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers was invited but declined to attend.

The Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon are condemning the Republican vote in the U.S. Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Budget writers at the Oregon Legislature are warning of deep cuts to health care and education. The Democrats in charge of putting together a two-year spending plan released a list of potential cuts Monday.

Andrew Harnick / Associated Press

Northwest lawmakers reacted Friday to the canceled vote on the Congressional Bill that would have replaced the Affordable Care Act. House GOP leaders pulled the bill just before the vote when it became clear that it didn't have enough votes to pass. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling the Republican healthcare plan in Congress “a disaster.” Inslee made his comments Wednesday as new projections on the impact to the state were released.

Unlocking The Mind With Music

Mar 3, 2017
Staff at Pullman Regional Hospital

 

A program at Pullman Regional Hospital is using the power of music to tap deep into the memories of dementia patients. Music & Memory is a national program that brings digital music to elderly patients to help improve their quality of life.

http://walden.house.gov/ / Wikimedia Commons

Oregonians worried about what the Trump Administration is going to do to the Affordable Care Act were offered hope today by the state’s only Republican congressman, Greg Walden. 

Associated Press / AP Images

As the Trump Administration works to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown is trying to expand health care to all children.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has scheduled a press conference Monday morning to give his take on the legislative session that just ended. At the top of the list of topics is whether the governor might take executive action to expand Medicaid under a provision of Obamacare.

The state of Washington spends about $1 billion per year on prescription drugs -- that’s state and federal funds. And the cost has been going up. Now some state lawmakers are wondering if there’s a way to drive a better bargain. Or at least shed some new light on how drugs are priced.

The process for getting a new drug approved in the U.S. takes years. If you’re very sick, it can be incredibly frustrating to learn a potential cure is out there, but may not reach the market in time to save your life.

State Health Care officials say they'll be notifying 91,000 Medicaid clients they've been affected by a data breach.

Officials with the Washington State Health Care Authority today said they discovered that the private information of 91,000 Apple Health clients was mishandled by two employees.

The information includes clients’ Social Security numbers, dates of birth, Apple Health client ID numbers and private health information.

The agency says the breach was discovered during a whistle blower investigation into misuse of state resources.

People from three Pacific island nations have the right to live and work in the United States, thanks to a unique 1986 treaty. But a separate Congressional action 20 years ago means that they are not eligible for Medicaid -- even those who become taxpayers.

Many have settled in Oregon, where lawmakers will consider a bill in February that would require the state to subsidize medical care for people from these nations.

The Marshall Islands are an independent nation made up of more than 1,000 small islands near the equator, about 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii.

MathTeacherGuy / flickr

With the start of a new year comes an increase in health care costs for many local employers and workers. The average increase for 2016 health plan premiums reviewed by the state insurance departments of Oregon, Washington and Idaho significantly exceeded the rate of inflation. So, what's driving health care costs in 2016?

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

Faced with a shortage of primary care doctors, more and more clinics are relying on nurse practitioners to fill the gap. But that creates another gap, in the level of training providers bring to the job. Residency programs--once reserved for physicians--are popping up for nurse practitioners as well.

By 2018, the state of Washington should have a treasure trove of data on the cost and quality of health care.

Carline Jean MCT / Landov

The nonprofit community health centers of Washington are concerned about the latest action by lawmakers dealing with money from marijuana sales in the state.

Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana, mandated that 5 percent of tax revenues from pot sales go to nonprofit community health centers.

But the public policy director for Community Health Network, Molly Belozer Firth, said the House and Senate have both proposed budgets that divert that money elsewhere, rather than to what they see as a priority, serving the uninsured.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers will introduce a bill Wednesday that will allow people to use some oils extracted from cannabis plants. Idaho currently does not allow any form of medical marijuana. But other states without medical pot have passed exemptions similar to this new bill.

AndreyPopov / Flickr

The ACLU of Washington is launching an effort to ensure that hospitals are following the state’s abortion rights laws.

Thursday the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to have Skagit Regional Health comply with Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act, or RPA.

The ACLU’s Doug Hoening says the public hospital has a policy of not providing abortion services, in violation of state law.

Hoening says The ACLU also has sent letters to three other public hospital districts in Mason County, Jefferson County, and Whidbey Island that have the same policy:

Centers for Disease Control

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This story is part of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 1 / Part 2).

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