Intriguing Health-Insurance Idea: Allow Cheaper ‘Catastrophic’ Policies From Other States

House Republicans are offering a most-intriguing idea that could bridge the gap between President Obama’s backtracking and the realities of the insurance marketplace. Last November, public furor swelled when it became clear that a central promise of Obamacare somehow got forgotten, somewhere along the line — that if you liked your current health-insurance policy, you could keep it. Obama allowed state insurance commissioners to reinstate last year’s policies, though it was a bit late to unring the bell, and Washington’s Mike Kreidler was having none of it. Now House Republicans have another idea — are suggesting that Washington allow lower-cost catastrophic health plans from other states to be offered here.

While Feds Conduct a ‘National Damage Control Tour,’ State Health Exchange Tour Celebrates a Website that Works — Except When the Feds Shut It Down Again

On Sunday it was at the Farmers Market in Olympia. The colorful trailer and information booths looked sharp, and computers and assistors were available for those who wanted to fill out applications, but the feds even ruined that. Later in the day the state website went down and according to state exchange staff the problem was at the federal level where the information systems connect.

State Health Exchange Meeting: Major Problem ‘Uncovered and Corrected’

In contrast to the ongoing problems at the federal health care exchange website, Washington State has been singled out by national media as one of the best examples of doing it right. But now in addition to the shutdown and other minor problems during its launch week, the State Health Benefit Exchange has discovered a new problem. At the HBE Board meeting on Wednesday, staff acknowledged that the health insurance subsidy calculator was not working properly.

U.S. Senate Reaches Deal, House Will Vote First

The deal would also deliver back pay to furloughed federal workers, require income verification for people seeking health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and also allow the Treasury Department to use extraordinary measures to pay the nation’s bills if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by Feb. 7.

Traditional Opposition by Conservatives to Universal Coverage Is a “Mistake”

On June 27th the Washington Policy Center held its annual Health Care Conference at SeaTac. The keynote speaker at Lunch was Avik Roy, the Forbes Magazine health care columnist. After two weeks, TVW has finally posted the link for the presentation, “The Conservative Case for Universal Coverage.” Avik characterized traditional conservative opposition to universal coverage as a “mistake.” He then proceeded to lay out a plan that would build on the new federal reforms to build a better approach to health care.

State Health Benefit Exchange Is Ready But Small Business Plans Will Be Limited

The State Health Benefit Exchange Board met in SeaTac on Wednesday and reluctantly voted to only offer small business group health insurance plans in two or three counties for its first year. There will still be a large number of small business plans statewide offered outside the Exchange. None of this impacts the individual health insurance market where there will be a robust number of plans available both inside and outside the exchange.

Governor Announces Health Care Policy Team

The Governor’s Office made it official on Tuesday, Bob Crittenden, M.D., and Jason McGill, J.D., were named as Governor Inslee’s policy team on health care. Senior Policy Advisor Crittenden will oversee health care reform, while Policy Advisor McGill will focus on all other health care and long term care issues.