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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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Idaho must rely on feds’ site in first year

The Idaho Legislature will not get its wish for a health insurance exchange website built by and for Idahoans. Not in the first year, anyway. The Legislature’s decision simply came too late.

More people covered, costs lower for Washington Health Plan

What will Obamacare cost, and who will it help? In Washington state, where final rates emerged this week, it will cost less, cover more people, and provide more comprehensive benefits than consumers get today. On Thursday, the office of state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced its final decisions on the rates and policies to be offered for sale on Washington’s new insurance-selling website, the Health Plan Finder.

GOP rolls out ‘planning kit’

House Republicans seem to be leaving little to chance as their members prepare to spend the August recess among their voters, issuing a “planning kit” with tips on maximizing exposure and minimizing contrary opinions on issues like health care reform. As chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is in charge of this year’s kit, called “Fighting Washington for all Americans.”

Washington’s Apple Health aims 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. Last month, the Legislature made Washington one of 24 states to accept the federal government’s offer to fund the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for America’s poor.

House GOP presses delay in health care law

WASHINGTON — House Republicans pressed ahead Wednesday on delaying key components of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, emboldened by the administration’s concession that requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers next year may be too complicated.

Breastfeeding boosted by Affordable Care Act

Amber Williams has joined the ranks of working moms. Williams, whose daughter, Isabelle, is 4 months old, recently returned to her job as manager of a Spokane bank, where she takes short breaks throughout the workday to express breast milk for her daughter.

More young adults have health insurance, study finds

Like many college graduates, Amelia Mills needed a little help shifting from student to worker. The 23-year-old recent Whitworth University graduate said staying on her mother’s health insurance policy after graduating helped her do just that.

Key requirement of Obamacare delayed a year

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major concession to business groups, the Obama administration Tuesday unexpectedly announced a one-year delay, until 2105, in a central requirement of the new health care law that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face fines.

Health insurers fear young people will opt out

MIAMI — Dan Lopez rarely gets sick and hasn’t been to a doctor in 10 years, so buying health insurance feels like a waste of money. Even after the federal health overhaul takes full effect next year, the 24-year-old said he will probably decide to pay the $100 penalty for those who skirt the law’s requirement that all Americans purchase coverage.

As boomers ease into Medicare, battle rages over health-care costs

The first baby boomers came of age in a political whirlwind: African Americans marched for equal rights, and Southerners attacked them. Anti-war protesters squared off against tear gas, nightsticks and bullets. Feminists pounded on the nation’s boardroom doors, demanding opportunities for women. Environmentalists demanded cleaner air and water. Federal government responded, with historic reforms: Voting rights. Civil rights. Environmental protection laws. Withdrawal from Vietnam. The resignation of a president.

Washington insurance exchange to cut health care costs

Washington’s consumers got their first, preliminary look at the cost of “Obamacare” on Tuesday. And the news, for many consumers, was good: Health insurance next year will cover more and cost less. Huge rate increases, predicted by critics and by some health insurance companies, did not materialize. Advocates of the federal reform law had hoped that rates would improve because insurers need to compete with each other on an apples-to-apples basis.

Health exchange could be coming for some state workers

OLYMPIA – In a quest to save money, political leaders in Washington state are exploring a proposal that would shift some government workers out of their current health plans and onto the insurance exchange developed under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Lawmakers believe the change, which could affect thousands of part-time state employees and education workers, would save the state $120 million over the next two years. It would consequently push more health care costs onto the federal government because many of the low-income workers would likely qualify for federal subsidies.

New wave of doctors focuses on healthier living

Americans spend boatloads of money on medical care – roughly twice as much, per capita, as other industrialized democracies. And what do they get in return? Shorter lives and poorer health.

Fewer small companies offer health insurance

Between 1999 and 2011, health insurance coverage doubled in cost, and a growing share of the nation’s workers no longer could obtain it from their employers. The lack of health coverage is particularly acute at the nation’s small employers and among those who earn lower wages. Those trends and more are outlined in a new report released by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic group focused on health care issues. The full text of the 78-page document, including state-by-state data, was set to be made available today at www.rwjf.org/coverage.

Premera warns about rates

Premera Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in Eastern Washington, has toned down earlier warnings of “staggering” rate increases that it had blamed on federal health care reform, but still says individual policies could rise by an average of 15 percent or considerably more.

Senate OKs Otter’s health insurance exchange proposal

BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter won his biggest legislative victory in his seven years in office Thursday, persuading reluctant GOP lawmakers to approve his plan for a state-based health insurance exchange. After more than three hours of debate, the Idaho Senate voted 23-12 in favor of the bill Thursday and sent it to the governor’s desk. The measure, HB 248, had earlier passed the House on a 41-29 vote.

Providence, CHS have split Spokane’s health care system

Ten years ago, doctors called the shots when it came to health care in Spokane. Most owned their practices or plied their specialties in larger clinics. They freely referred patients to other doctors and hospitals, engaged in research trials and melded into a health care community where collaboration often trumped competition.