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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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What the ruling means for Washington and Idaho

Where Washington stands: Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna signed on to the health care lawsuit against the wishes of Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and majority Democrats, but Washington moved ahead this past legislative session with implementing its own health insurance exchange.

State awarded $128 million for Health Benefit Exchange

OLYMPIA – Washington will receive a financial reward for forging ahead with one element of federal health care reform this spring while many other states were holding back. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday it will award Washington a $128 million grant to set up its Health Benefit Exchange, a place where small businesses and individuals can shop for health care coverage and compare different plans about as easily as they can shop online for airline tickets on Expedia or Priceline.

Protesters object to state’s role in case

OLYMPIA – As the U.S. Supreme Court questioned lawyers about the constitutionality of making Americans buy health insurance Tuesday, a liberal group that supports the rule protested outside the offices of a business group and a state official who oppose it. About 100 demonstrators, including several who drove across the state from Spokane, demonstrated outside the Washington office of the National Federation of Independent Business, then marched through downtown Olympia to the office of Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Gregoire inks health reform

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire and other Democratic officials marked Friday’s second anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act – which Republicans prefer to call Obamacare – with a signing ceremony of their own. Gregoire signed legislation to help set up health insurance exchanges in Washington, a system that would help individuals and small businesses shop for medical plans by 2014.

Idaho health plan set for comment

Members of the public will have an opportunity next week to voice their opinions about Idaho’s plan to set up a health insurance exchange, the federally mandated marketplace designed to help people and small businesses shop for and evaluate insurance plans at competitive prices. Representatives of the state’s Insurance Department are traveling the state to gather feedback in anticipation of a decision from the Legislature on whether to approve implementing the exchange. That decision would also include whether to approve spending authority for the $20.7 million federal grant the state recently received to set up the exchange.

Report: Health law to cut cost of care

Many middle-class Washington families will save an average of about $1,700 a year once federal health reforms take full effect, according to an organization that advocates for health care consumers. Families USA calculates that changes from the Affordable Care Act will curb insurance rate hikes. In its report released Thursday, the organization said its findings were designed as a counterpoint to Republican presidential candidates’ push to repeal the law.

Toss health care law, says Rep. McMorris Rogers

SEATTLE – As Washington and other states adopt laws and adapt programs to prepare for federal health care reforms, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers argued Tuesday that may not be the best course of action. “We need to repeal the entire law and start over,” she told a conference on health care reform sponsored by a conservative think tank, the Washington Policy Center.

Health insurance exchange draws praise, ridicule

Washington lawmakers have passed a forceful measure envisioned to help upward of 50,000 small businesses attain health insurance for their employees. They did it by creating what’s called a health insurance exchange, a device that every state is compelled to use to comply with federal health reform.

Insurance chief lists benefits of health care law

 Washington state residents have benefitted from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.  Among the most popular provisions of the act, Kreidler said, is the one allowing children to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.

Health care splinters GOP in Washington

OLYMPIA – Federal health care reform may be among the most controversial issues in the nation. In many ways Washington state could be considered ground zero for that partisan debate. Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal it, with Eastern Washington’s Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sponsoring an amendment to keep any money from being used to implement the 2009 law. The state’s Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, are big supporters of the law and say it can help ease the state’s growing Medicaid costs.

Obama cites Spokane business in defending health care law

Spokane business owner Janine Vaughn hit the jackpot twice this week, in terms of national press attention. On Friday, President Barack Obama cited her and her downtown small business, Revival Lighting, as a beneficiary of last year’s health care reform.