Medicaid

Affordable Care Act
5:45 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Reports Strong Enrollment Numbers Despite Early Glitches

CEO Richard Onizuka announces the latest enrollment numbers for Washington's health exchange.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

After a rocky start, Washington’s health benefits exchange is taking a victory lap. Officials say the exchange got the late surge in enrollments it was counting on, pushing up its final numbers.

The first open enrollment period of Obamacare ended in March, and now that the exchange has processed most of the stragglers, it has released new numbers: 164,062 people enrolled in private plans, with another 423,205 enrolling in Medicaid through March 31. Factor in those now required to use the exchange’s website to re-up their Medicaid, and the number exceeds a cool million.

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Health Care
4:29 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Audit: State Overpaying Medicaid Providers

Washington state has been overpaying for health care under the Medicaid program, according to state auditors.

The audit found the state spent about $17 million more than it should have on free health care for the poor in 2010. The amount is a tiny, tiny part of the billion-dollar Medicaid budget. But the auditor found the overpayments could feed a vicious cycle, increasing each year.

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Emergency Room
5:01 am
Thu March 20, 2014

New Emergency Room Guidelines Help Washington Save Millions, Cut ER Visits

ER visits dropped 10 percent in the last fiscal year, due in part to a set of best practices around emergency room care, says a new report.
UMHealthSystem Flickr

Washington’s Medicaid program saved more than $33 million last year, and a new report gives much of the credit to a big push to reduce emergency room visits.

ERs are a great place to treat real emergencies, but a very expensive place to do run-of-the-mill medical care. So the Health Care Authority, the agency that runs Medicaid, partnered with the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Medical Association and others to adopt seven best practices aimed at ensuring ERs are used for their intended purpose.

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Medicaid
3:38 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Glitches Put Tens of Thousands In Danger Of Losing Medicaid

File image
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Glitches that kept tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients from re-enrolling this fall continued to trip people up in December, though the state agency that runs Medicaid said the problems are being fixed.

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Affordable Care Act
5:24 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Strong Enrollment for Wash. Health Exchange, Medicaid Plan

On the day President Barack Obama acknowledged major flaws in the rollout of health insurance marketplaces, Washington’s exchange reported strong enrollment. Washington Healthplanfinder announced some 35,000 people have enrolled in a plan through the website, and another 56,000 are working their way through the process.

Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange, said Washington’s site was designed to get the basics right.

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Health
1:34 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Why is it hard to give away free health insurance?

Having insurance makes it more likely you'll get preventive medical care
Lynn Kelley Author Flickr

You might imagine everyone without health insurance will gladly sign up for free or subsidized coverage once it’s available this fall, under the Affordable Care Act.

However, it hasn't worked out that way for children. A high-profile effort to cover all the uninsured kids in Washington has stalled.

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Medicine
9:55 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Been to the Emergency Room a Lot? Let’s Talk

If you’ve been to an emergency room in Washington in recent months, you're probably in a new database.

The goal is to treat more injuries and illnesses outside the emergency department, in a simpler setting, which should save money, curb drug abuse and also benefit patients.

Washington's hospitals and doctors have agreed to enter some basic information about their emergency patients into a computer system. Once you hit your fifth emergency visit per year, the hospital will assign a case manager to look at your records.

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Health
2:55 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

State limits non-emergency ER visits by Medicaid recipients

The emergency room sign at the Ballard branch of Swedish Hospital. 4/19/07
"zoomar" flickr.com

The state of Washington is limiting Medicaid recipients to three non-emergency Emergency Room visits per year, beginning October 1st.

Visits over the limit won't be covered by Medicaid, and hospitals will be allowed to bill patients for those services.

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Electronic health records
1:40 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Program gives doctors access to records wherever they are

Paper copies of medical records are becoming a thing of the past. Now, there is a state and national effort to make electronic records accessible by doctors no matter where they are.
Flickr

If you’ve ever been to a hospital or doctor who can’t seem to get your medical records, be thankful for a new web-service launching this month. It allows doctors, hospitals and health insurers to quickly send medical records to each other, even if they're not in the same network.

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health care costs
6:01 pm
Thu July 7, 2011

Washington praised for how it cares for the poor and sick

Same as the South? Washington's health care spending for disabled Medicaid beneficiaries is among the lowest in the nation.
Todd Gilmer and Kronick Health Affairs (journal)

When it comes to caring for its poorest and sickest people, Washington state appears to be doing better than the rest of the country. At least, that’s the view from a new study that looks at Medicaid spending.

Public spending on health-care is a hot political topic these days, as states and the federal government try to balance their budgets. Researchers were wondering: How do the 50 states compare in their spending on Medicaid, which covers low-income people? Do some states spend more because they pay doctors higher fees?

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budget whiplash
10:26 pm
Sun April 17, 2011

Health clinics expanding, but also cutting services

Clinics that serve low-income patients (like this HealthPoint facility in Auburn) have been sprouting up across the country at a time when the federal funds that subsidize them are drying up.
Photo courtesy of HealthPoint

Health clinics that cater to low-income people have been expanding.

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