health care

Washington Needs Your Help In Birth Defect Mystery

May 15, 2014
Courtney Flatt / Earth Fix

Over the past three years, a rare birth defect has shown up Central Washington at about four times the national average. Now, the state health department is turning to the public for clues about what’s causing the fatal defect. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Ragesoss / Wikimedia Commons

Over the past three years, central Washington has seen unusually high numbers of babies born with a rare birth defect. No one has determined a cause. Public health officials are holding two listening sessions this week to learn more from community members.

CDC

A disease-causing fungus thought to be confined to the deserts of the Southwest has been discovered in soil samples from eastern Washington. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now trying to figure out if the fungus may be living in other parts of the Northwest.

Northwest Public Radio

Nothing could be better—or healthier—than a walk through the countryside, right?  Wrong.  New research reveals that walking briskly could be better.  "Rock Doc"  Kirsten Peters explains.

My Labrador-mix from the pound, Buster Brown by name, loves to walk with me. On the weekends we often do a six-mile walk around town or along the Snake River where Buster can be off leash (as Mother Nature intends).

Oregon Considers Dumping Health Website

Apr 24, 2014
Cover Oregon

Oregon got more than $300 million from the feds to set up a state-of-the-art website to enroll people in health insurance. About $250 million has already been spent and Cover Oregon thinks it may cost another $78 million to fix the current website that has never been fully functional. 

If you went to see the Kings of Leon concert on March 28 in Seattle, let's hope you came home with nothing but great memories.

wikimedia

You only have until the end of this month to sign up for coverage using one of the new health insurance exchanges. And if you’re planning to do it online at the last minute, how easy that will be depends on where you live in the Northwest. 

Idaho's 2013 Medicaid Rolls At Highest Level Yet

Mar 5, 2014
Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare/ Emilie Ritter Saunders

The number of low-income Idahoans on Medicaid increased 3.5 percent in 2013, a figure the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says marks a slow-down in growth of the program. On average, 236,352 Idahoans were signed up for Medicaid each month of 2013. That's the highest average monthly enrollment the state has ever recorded.

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner wants to notify consumers if their insurance company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Idaho started licensing midwives in 2010 under the Midwifery Practice Act so midwives could deliver babies in homes and at birthing centers legally. 

Officials at Oregon's largest medical center want state lawmakers to help fund a massive expansion of their cancer research facility.

The Washington Senate passed a bill this week that’s had a tough time in recent years -- even just reaching the floor for a vote.

Christian Scientists who treat their sick children with faith healing, instead of medical care, have special protection under Washington law. But that could soon change.

Nearly a thousand people who bought discounted health plans on Washington’s exchange have learned they won’t be getting their promised subsidies in January. Officials with the exchange blame technical problems. They say customers will get the subsidy when they do their taxes in 2015.

Public health officials in the Northwest say a series of gonorrhea outbreaks shows little sign of letting up. In fact, in some places, rates of the STD may be getting worse. The timing of the increases has experts worried.

Governor John Kitzhaber says the state signed a contract Thursday, with a company for an independent assessment of the problems with Oregon's health insurance exchange website.

Cover Oregon Hires Lawyer To Get Money From Software Company

Dec 16, 2013
oregon.gov

Oregon's health insurance exchange is trying to hold software giant Oracle accountable for failures of the Cover Oregon website. But at the same time, the state also wants Oracle to keep working on the site.

The holiday frenzy isn’t the only deadline looming. For people who expect to have health coverage when the new year starts, the deadline to enroll for a health plan is December 23rd. But signing up through the state’s health exchange has been rough for the last several days. As of Tuesday morning, the site is back up and running.

Oregon's insurance commissioner is defending a decision to allow health insurance companies to keep policies in place for a year even if they don't comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Head Of Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Takes Medical Leave

Dec 2, 2013

The director of the Oregon Health Authority will take temporary control of the embattled health insurance exchange. Since Cover Oregon was supposed to start enrolling new customers on Oct. 1, Rocky King has faced substantial criticism.

Ken Lund / Flickr

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has awarded back pay to a former federal law clerk in Oregon who was denied health benefits for her same-sex domestic partner. 

Oregon lawmakers want to know why the state's beleaguered health insurance exchange has yet to enroll a single applicant through its website.

Slow Start, Mixed Bag For Health Care Law In The Northwest

Nov 13, 2013
Washington Health Benefit Exchange

The first numbers on enrollment under the new health care law confirm a slow start and mixed results in Northwest states. In Idaho, 338 people have signed up for health insurance that will start January 1. Washington's health exchange has enrolled 7,091 people. Oregon, meanwhile, comes up blank in the new federal report.

U.S. Senate

Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley Wednesday signed on to legislation to allow people to keep their current insurance plans under the new federal health care law. It's the latest example of how the Affordable Care Act could be a hot topic in next year’s election.

ILRI/Flickr

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection. While the highly-contagious illness remains rare, the Centers for Disease Control is reporting an uptick nationally in the number of cases this year.

Kitzhaber Beefs Up Cover Oregon Staffing

Nov 1, 2013
Orna Izakson / Wikimedia Commons

Governor John Kitzhaber announced Friday that a hundred more part-time workers will be added to Oregon's health insurance exchange.

Online Hiccups Turn Health Care Sign-Ups Old School

Oct 31, 2013
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

It's hard to find anyone who orders anything by phone or through the mail any more, unless they're signing up for health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act. With all the online snags in the first month, people are turning to some decidedly old school methods. And some managers in the northwest say snail mail and the phone are the best workarounds for the time being.

Terms And Cost Of Pacific Tower Lease Raise Questions

Oct 31, 2013
Austin Jenkins

The state of Washington is about to make a major real estate decision that supporters say will transform healthcare training for the next generation. The deal has also been called “a nightmare.” We’re talking about a proposed lease of Seattle’s Pacific Tower - former headquarters of Amazon dot com. Powerful interests – including Washington’s Speaker of the House – want to turn the Seattle landmark into a training center for future health care workers and a hub for non-profits. But internal state agency documents raise serious questions about the terms and cost of the deal.

A showdown may be looming over the cost of hospital care on the Oregon ballot next year. A union that represents health care workers filed five initiative petitions Monday that could set up a costly election battle next year.

KUOW/John Ryan

A new report says violence is a “constant disruption” at Washington state’s two main psychiatric hospitals. But the CEO of the state’s biggest mental hospital isn't sold on some of the findings.

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