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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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History is on side of ‘Obamacare’

Historically, health care expansion has a record of winning public support. In England, conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dismantled several nationalized sectors of the economy, returning them to private enterprise. But she did not try to tear apart England’s nationalized health care system – it was too popular. Then and now. In summer 2012, when London hosted the Olympic Games, the opening ceremony included a prominent celebration of the National Health Service.

Affordable Care Act: What it means for you

How will the Affordable Care Act affect you? Most Americans will be affected in some way, but the answer depends on where they live and how they get – or don’t get – health coverage now. The state in which people live is a factor because some states, such as Washington, have worked for years to implement the law and have taken advantage of federal funding to expand Medicaid. But other states, such as Idaho, fought the law, delayed their implementation work and refused to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars. In states such as Florida and Georgia, elected officials not only have fought the federal law, they’ve said they intend to make it difficult for their uninsured residents to sign up for health care coverage.

States experiment in effort to lower health care costs

SALEM, Ore. – As states work on implementing complex federal health care reforms, some have begun tackling an issue that has vexed employers, individuals and governments at all levels for years: the rapidly rising costs of health care. The success of models that are beginning to emerge across the country ultimately will determine whether President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act can make good on its name. It’s too early to tell what will work and what won’t, but states, insurers and medical groups are experimenting with a variety of programs to contain costs without undermining care. These test runs come as millions of new patients will gain eligibility for health insurance under the federal law, putting additional pressure on the system.

Cost control remains key issue of new law

As a longtime advocate for health care reform, what does Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler think the 2010 law left undone? Cost control. “I wish there had been more specificity for how to bend the cost curve down,” he said.

Kathleen Parker: Obamacare line in sand boxes in Republicans

Ask most people on Capitol Hill and they’ll say: 50-50. Those are the odds they give for a government shutdown. An alternative to the shutdown would be a proposed delay of the individual mandate, the most painful part of Obamacare, which may seem like a Republican victory but upon closer inspection would be a win for President Barack Obama and Democrats.

Overhaul confuses Medicare beneficiaries

Dear seniors, your Medicare benefits aren’t changing under the Affordable Care Act. That’s the message federal health officials are trying to get out to elderly consumers confused by overlapping enrollment periods for Medicare and so-called “Obamacare.” Medicare beneficiaries don’t have to do anything differently and will continue to go to Medicare.gov to sign up for plans. But advocates say many have been confused by a massive media blitz directing consumers to online insurance exchanges set up as part of the federal health law. Many of the same insurance companies are offering coverage for Medicare and the exchanges.

Five things to know about health care overhaul

Still a little hazy about the health care overhaul? You have plenty of company. About half the people surveyed this spring by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation felt they didn't have enough information to understand how the law will affect their family. Among those with an annual household income of less than $30,000, some 30 percent thought the law had been repealed by Congress or the Supreme Court.

Tax credits will vary by household income, family size

WASHINGTON — Americans who buy health insurance outside their jobs next year can expect an average tax credit of nearly $2,700 to help them obtain coverage on the new state insurance marketplaces, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. The tax credits will vary by household income and family size, as well as the cost of coverage in a particular state and local area.

State tries to simplify Medicaid

In political circles, “Medicaid expansion” has been a phrase that launches arguments. But for uninsured poor people – 22,000 in Spokane County and 328,000 throughout Washington state – expansion means health care coverage is on the way. Washington is one of 25 states to accept the federal government’s offer to fund the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for America’s poor.

Glossary: Health care overhaul

Major new laws come with their own jargon, and President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is no exception. With the first open enrollment season kicking off for the uninsured, here are some terms consumers might want to get familiar with: Affordable Care Act: The most common formal name for the health care law. Its full title is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Opponents still deride the law as “Obamacare,” but Obama himself has embraced that term, saying it shows he cares.

Despite Cruz, Senate heads toward Obamacare vote

WASHINGTON — Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz’ all-night talkathon to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care law surpassed the 20-hour mark Wednesday with a harsh reality looming — a test vote the tea party conservative was sure to lose.

S-R seeks browsers of health site

Need health insurance? The Spokesman-Review is looking for a few volunteers to try Washington state’s new Health Plan Finder website, which debuts on Tuesday. The website is a central feature of the federal Affordable Care Act. On it, eight health insurance companies will compete for the public’s insurance-buying dollars. Federal tax credits will reduce the cost of premiums, for those with incomes below 400 percent of the poverty level ($45,960/year for one person, $62,040 for a family of two, $78,120 for a family of three, $94,200 for a family of four).

Eye on Boise: Risch worries attack on Syria would make things worse

BOISE – Idaho Sen. Jim Risch says he believes the nation is better off doing nothing than launching a military strike against Syria in the wake of that country’s chemical weapons attack against its own citizens. “Nothing I say today should be taken as minimizing this attack that was done by the Assad regime on his own country,” Risch said at a Boise news conference Thursday. But, he said, “There are no good answers here. … My judgment is the risk of doing something is worse than the risk of doing nothing.”

Two more insurance companies approved for exchange

Two more health insurance companies won approval Friday from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to sell policies on the Washington state Health Plan Finder. Required by the federal Affordable Care Act, the Health Plan Finder begins operation Oct. 1 and will be an online marketplace serving individuals who have had trouble getting health insurance coverage.

2 more health insurers get preliminary OK for WA

Two more health insurance companies won approval Friday from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, to sell policies on the Washington state Health Plan Finder. Required by the federal Affordable Care Act, the Health Plan Finder begins operation Oct. 1 and will be an online marketplace serving individuals who have had trouble getting health insurance coverage.

McMorris Rodgers says GOP working on ‘Obamacare’ surgery

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, said the GOP plans to pick away at President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation by targeting provisions she said are causing bipartisan headaches. “To get the entire bill repealed, or defunded, is probably not realistic,” McMorris Rodgers said Thursday following a spirited town hall discussion in Spokane Wednesday night in which the Affordable Care Act took center stage. “But I do think there are provisions in the law that we can get delayed, or provisions in the law we can get defunded.”

McMorris Rodgers faces impassioned crowd

The crowd of about 400 who packed the Lincoln Center on Wednesday night as Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers held a town hall meeting at times resembled the partisan Congress the Spokane Republican will return to next month. “This debate is not that different from what you might hear on the House floor from day to day,” McMorris Rodgers said, closing an hour of impassioned questions from an audience focused on President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform legislation.