Number of Uninsured People in Washington State Cut In Half

The number of uninsured people in Washington state has been cut in half since health care reform took effect, but there are still about half a million uninsured people in the state, the insurance commissioner’s office reported Wednesday. Adults who don’t have insurance this year- through work or Medicaid or the individual market – will face penalties of at least $695. Families could be asked to pay more than $2,000 in fines.

Explaining the Growth in US Health Care Spending

At least 70 percent of the recent slowdown in healthcare spending per capita—and possibly as much as 98 percent—can likely be explained by long-standing patterns known to affect healthcare spending trends, not by new, unexplained conditions in the medical sector. Breaking down those figures, roughly 41 percent of the slowdown probably resulted from the decline in real per capita income because of the Great Recession.

Federal Audit Finds Problems with Washington Health Exchange

A federal audit being released Thursday found Washington’s health insurance marketplace didn’t always do a good job of ensuring people were enrolled according to federal requirements, but the exchange says it has fixed or is already working on the problems.

What Bernie Sanders Can Learn About Single-Payer From His Home State of Vermont

Vermont needeed $2.5 billion to build a single-payer system — it only collects $2.7 billion in taxes annually. The proposed taxes would ask higher earners to spend more on health care than they do now — in some cases, far more. In order to make single-payer work there, Vermont had two hard options: a huge tax hike for state residents or a huge pay cut for state doctors and hospitals.

Health Plan Sign-Up Deadlines Draw Near

The deadline to select a health plan through the state-based insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, is Jan. 31 for coverage effective March 1. As of Jan. 2, nearly 174,000 people across the state have enrolled in plans through the exchange, Those totals represent about a 48 percent increase in sign-ups through the same point in the 2015 open enrollment period.

How Denmark Dumped Medical Malpractice and Improved Patient Safety

The U.S. system for compensating injured patients — medical malpractice lawsuits — effectively shuts out patients when the potential damages are small. Denmark offers a radically different alternative, as do similar programs in other Scandinavian countries and New Zealand.

The Union That Rules News York

How 1199 SEIU, New York’s ultra-powerful hospital and nursing home employees’ union, took over the Empire State. From these early organizing struggles, former Union President Davis left two key tactical legacies. The first was an appreciation for the benefits of ideology and symbolism. Davis’s second tactical bequest was his discovery that the most effective way to win over hospital management was via government bailout.

Data Dive: How Healthy are Washington State Residents?

WA health strengths: Low prevalence of physical inactivity (3rd), Low prevalence of low birthweight (2nd), Low rate of preventable hospitalizations (6th). WA health challenges: High rate of drug deaths (32nd), High incidence of pertussis (47th), Large disparity in health status by educational attainment (49th).

State Medicaid Pilot Project Aims at Savings

The state is asking for $3 billion as well as performance incentives to implement the five-year program, which would become permanent if the federal government approves of the changes. Officials from the Health Care Authority and the state Department of Social and Health Services are touring the state to gather feedback on the proposal. The 30-day window for public comment will close Aug. 23.