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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gov’t reopens after Congress ends 16-day shutdown

WASHINGTON — The government reopened its doors Thursday after a battle-weary Congress approved a bipartisan measure to end a 16-day partial shutdown and avert the possibility of an economy-jarring default on U.S. obligations.

Washington Medicaid increases dental coverage for adults

OLYMPIA – A quarter-million adults in Washington will gain dental coverage over the next two years as the state expands its Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act and re-establishes programs dropped in budget cutbacks. Starting Jan. 1, current Medicaid recipients who lost coverage after successive rounds of budget cuts in 2009 and 2011 will have it restored, and those added to the health care program under an agreement between the state and federal government will also be eligible for dental coverage, state officials said.

Idaho insurance exchange projects fee hike by 2016

BOISE – Idaho insurance exchange leaders could hike a fee on individual policies by nearly 75 percent within two years because existing assessments may be insufficient to sustain the Internet health coverage marketplace’s operations, emails show. The $70 million Your Health Idaho exchange’s board of directors in June set a 1.5 percent assessment on each policy to accomplish dual objectives: Raise enough money to stockpile exchange operational reserves while fulfilling the politically critical goal of being less than the 3.5 percent fee being charged on policies sold via federal exchanges in 34 states.

Health plan website fixes errors, draws customers

OLYMPIA – More than 165,000 people have visited Washington’s website designed to help them find medical insurance, and about 9,400 individuals or families have enrolled in some type of plan. After some computer problems in the opening days that resulted in long delays for both the website and at call centers, state officials say the system is improved and has run smoothly since Saturday morning.

BBB Tip of the Week: Health care scams

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are in effect and scammers are pouncing on the confusion related to these healthcare changes. Here are several scams that have cropped up:

Charles Krauthammer: Shutdown was Democrats’ doing

The Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths. The most egregious concern the substance of the fight, the identity of the perpetrators and the origins of the current eruption. 1. Substance

McMorris Rodgers: GOP won’t back down on budget fight

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Spokane Republican at the center of the partial government shutdown, said Friday the GOP remains united in forcing Democrats to the negotiating table over Obamacare and other federal spending issues. “It is our goal to open up the negotiations over the budget,” said McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference and one of Speaker John Boehner’s top lieutenants. “Passing a clean (spending bill) doesn’t solve the problem.”

Signing up on Washington’s site still slow

SEATTLE – Washington state’s new health insurance exchange experienced more problems on Wednesday, its second day of operation. The website offers visitors a friendly, bright green welcome page, but the internal workings were plagued by glitches.

Health care exchanges struggle to keep up

WASHINGTON – For the second straight day, computer problems continued to stymie online visitors hoping to compare health plans or enroll in coverage on state insurance marketplaces under the new health care law. Federally operated websites and those run by states had similar problems as their computer systems once again struggled to accommodate large numbers of people trying to access the marketplaces at the same time.

Health exchange website testers learn about options

Heavy traffic and opening-day technical glitches made Washington’s new Health Plan Finder website difficult, if not impossible, to use Tuesday. But if a group of volunteers recruited by The Spokesman-Review is any indication, the demand for decent health coverage is considerable.

Mona Charen: Blame ready for Obamacare shortcomings

Want a glimpse of what the Obamacare battle will look like in 2015? Just glance at liberal websites. You’ll find a trove of insurance company bashing. Are insurance premiums rising instead of falling by the $2,500 per family that Obama repeatedly promised in 2009? They are. If you consult ThinkProgess, Daily Kos and Physicians for a National Health Program, you’ll learn that it’s the “greedy insurance companies” that are causing prices to rise, not the risibly titled, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” You can take this to the bank: In the run-up to the next presidential election, Democrats will be in thorough blame-shifting mode. It wasn’t the perverse incentives, byzantine complexity, new taxes and layers of bureaucracy built into Obamacare, they’ll insist. It was heartless health insurers who were willing to let people die rather than accept a lower profit margin.

Drug marketers don’t always deliver a healthy message

Suffering? Getting old? The pharmaceutical industry wants to help. Every night on TV, photogenic actors frolic with photogenic grandchildren, or lounge in bathtubs gazing into the setting sun, telling emotion-laden tales of 30-second Madison Avenue cures: E.D.? Low T? R.A.? COPD? Dry eye? Sneezy? Wheezy? Queasy? There’s a drug for that. And all the consumer needs to do – all together, now – is “Talk to your doctor.”

Tips from the FDA on prescriptions

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical industry’s advertising practices.  FDA maintains a web site outlining the requirements of federal law and some tips for consumers, at /Consumers/Prescription DrugAdvertising/default.htm

Obamacare will bring price break for many in Washington

What will Obamacare cost, and who will it help? In Washington state it will cover more people and provide more comprehensive benefits than insurance companies sell today. And the final rates indicate many consumers’ health costs could drop.

Center answers calls for help

At 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 3, the switchboard turned on and the phones began to ring. Callers from all over Washington wanted to know how to qualify for health insurance coverage. They dialed the right place.

House votes to defund Affordable Care Act in budget

WASHINGTON – Republicans rallied around a budget plan Saturday to keep the government open but delay the new health care law for a year, storming toward a showdown with Democrats that looked increasingly likely to shut down the government when the current fiscal year ends Monday night. The Republican-controlled House, in a rapid-fire series of votes that stretched past midnight, voted 248 to 174 to permanently repeal a 2.3 percent medical device tax that helps fund the health care law, then voted 231 to 192 to delay the law for a year. The House was also expected to approve a measure to assure military personnel will be paid if the government shuts down.