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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Medicaid system vexes providers

Some Idaho health care providers say they’re being financially stranded by the state’s new Medicaid claim processing system. Molina Medicaid Services took over the reimbursement system as Idaho’s contracted vendor on June 7, just as the state was enacting a three-week delay in Medicaid payments to allow the Department of Health and Welfare to balance its budget at the close of the fiscal year.

No decision on Medicaid funds

An appeal to Congress this week from more than a dozen governors, including Washington’s Chris Gregoire, to approve more money for Medicaid patients appears to have fallen on deaf ears, at least for now. Gregoire and other governors gathered in Washington, D.C., Wednesday hoping to put pressure on the Senate to raise the federal medical assistance percentages, or FMAP. But the senators headed home for their July Fourth recess without taking another vote on the measure.

Washington state counts on Medicaid boost

OLYMPIA – Washington may need another special session of the Legislature if Congress doesn’t come through with some $480 million in higher payments for Medicaid, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday. Concerns over the mounting federal deficit have delayed congressional approval of what Gregoire and officials of other states once considered a sure thing – a boost in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP, for Medicaid costs that are shared with the states.

Gregoire: Second special session may be needed

OLYMPIA — Washington may need another special session of the Legislature if Congress doesn’t come through with some $480 million in higher payments for Medicaid, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday. Concerns over the mounting federal deficit have delayed congressional approval of what Gregoire and officials of other states once considered a sure thing — a boost in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP, for Medicaid costs that are shared with the states.

Second special session might be needed, Gregoire says

OLYMPIA — Washington may need another special session of the Legislature if Congress doesn’t come through with some $480 million in higher payments for Medicaid, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

Washington state launches Medicaid system

State officials are hoping their switch to a new, $161 million computerized billing and payment system for Medicaid goes smoothly, avoiding glitches that can accompany major computer projects. The ProviderOne system, which launched Sunday, is about two years late in arriving. It is expected to handle about $17 million a day in payments for medical and nursing home care to about 14,000 health care providers statewide. The system’s first phase replaces a Medicaid payment system constructed more than a quarter-century ago and is supposed to cut down on errors, overpayments and fraud.

The high cost of living

Jim Sinnott survived Pearl Harbor, joined his nation in picking up the pieces of that shattered day and helped his generation forge a more secure world for the next. Japanese dive bombers couldn’t stop the Navy radioman in 1941, but Parkinson’s disease is catching up with him nearly 69 years later.

Medicaid clients to get service cards

About 183,000 people on Medicaid in Spokane and northeastern Washington will receive service cards replacing monthly paper coupons beginning this week.

Walgreens: No new Washington Medicaid patients

Walgreens has told Washington state officials that it will no longer fill prescriptions for new Medicaid patients as of April 16 because it isn’t being reimbursed enough by the state.

Gregoire counting on federal cash

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the federal government will come up with $435 million for Medicaid reimbursements over the next 18 months, easing somewhat the cuts the state would have to make on health care spending to fill a projected hole in its budget. At a Monday press conference to announce the number of jobs generated by federal stimulus money, Gregoire said she expects both houses of Congress will extend the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP, in a way that sends higher reimbursement for Medicaid patients to Washington. The state traditionally has had lower reimbursement rates than many other places.

State funds offer healthy savings

When it came time for dental hygiene student Dana Tasche to be tested on Friday, her professors at Eastern Washington University’s Riverpoint Campus found some teeth that really needed work. There is no shortage of patients to choose from at the EWU Dental Hygiene Clinic, which maintains the oral health of nearly of 6,700 low-income patients a year.

Walgreen’s fights drop in Medicaid payments

Walgreen Co. said it will stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at about half of its pharmacies in Washington next month because of continued reimbursement reductions. Walgreen’s, the largest drugstore chain in the country, said in a statement Wednesday night that it will urge state lawmakers during the legislative session to adopt ways to lower the state’s prescription drug costs without further harming the ability of pharmacies to conduct business in Washington.

Eyeglasses program has blurry prognosis

Looming Washington state budget cuts could erase a program that puts eyeglasses on 69,000 poor people. It’s among the stark choices legislators face this month when they convene in Olympia to decide where tax dollars are best spent.

Senate’s 10-year health fix would cost US $856B

Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday released the much-awaited Finance Committee version of an American health-system remake — a landmark $856 billion, 10-year measure that starts a rough ride through Congress without visible Republican backing.

Audit: Planned Parenthood overbilled Medicaid

Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest required unnecessary office visits by its poorest patients, a practice that led to excessive payments from the taxpayer-financed Medicaid program, according to a recent audit. The audit also uncovered troubling billing procedures and problems with unauthorized staff prescribing and dispensing birth control pills, said Doug Porter, Washington’s Medicaid director. Medicaid covers the medical bills of poor people throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Lawsuit prompts delay in Medicaid rate cuts

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Washington state’s plan to reduce how much it pays for brand-name drugs prescribed to Medicaid patients. The state hopes to achieve $109 million in savings by steering pharmacies toward cheaper generic drugs. To encourage that shift, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget would pay less for brand-name drugs, as would the Senate’s budget.

Judge blocks planned prescription cuts

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Washington state’s plan to reduce how much it pays for brand-name drugs prescribed to Medicaid patients. The move comes as the state's largest medication retailer -- Walgreen Co. announced it would quit taking Medicaid orders at some pharmacies.

Stimulus will boost weatherization

BOISE – Hundreds of poor North Idaho families could see their homes weatherized and made more energy-efficient thanks to the federal economic stimulus bill, Idaho lawmakers learned Thursday. “We can see putting a lot of people to work installing insulation, replacing windows in homes that will reduce the carbon footprint of Idaho,” said Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong. “It’s one-time – we fix a home, we fix the home forever.”