Small Businesses Hail Ruling That Protects Association Health Plans

Thousands of Washington’s small businesses can feel confident their health-insurance coverage is here to stay, thanks to a decision issued Wednesday by a judge with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. “While I am disappointed with the ruling, I will not appeal it,” Commissioner Kreidler said in a statement.

House Republicans Hesitant About Tax Break Closures

All 15 Republicans on the Washington House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday against a bill that would close several tax breaks and raise $356 million. And the committee voted 23-10 — five Republicans crossing the aisle — to support a Democratic bill that would delay implementation of Initiative 1351, which mandates smaller class sizes in public schools, from 2015-2017 to 2017-2019.

It’s Official: Obama Axes Trans Fat

The FDA issued a final decision Tuesday that gives the food industry three years to phase out partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, which are still used in a wide variety of products from microwave popcorn to cake frosting. The government’s goal is to prevent cardiovascular disease and advocates are cheering the move as a historic win for public health. But class-action attorneys are eager to use the ruling — before it takes effect— to file lawsuits against food companies that have continued to use trans fat.

State Appeals Judge’s Order for Timely Mental-Competency Evaluations

Health officials said they are only appealing the portion that mandates competency evaluations within seven days of a judge’s order. They said one week was not enough time to allow some defendants who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to stabilize. Evaluators send people to hospitals before their mental state is fully understood, officials said.

Lowest-Cost Exchange Premiums Remain Competitive in 2016

A new analysis from Avalere finds wide geographic variation in 2016 premium increases for individual market exchange plans, based on proposed rate filings in eight states where complete data is available. Washington State, for example, will only see an average 4% increase for Silver Plans,

Washington Moves to Bring Transparency to Health Care

An all-payer claims database works by pooling data about health care costs (both prices and out-of-pocket costs) and quality from all third party payers (both public and private) into one place, revealing trends and deviations within the market. This legislative session, Washington became the 18th state to create an APCD.

Midsize Businesses Seek Relief From Federal Health Law

Employer groups and insurers are pushing to keep businesses with 51 to 100 workers exempt from a provision of the federal health law that they say could significantly increase their costs. For these midsize employers, the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for what health plans must cover—and how they are priced—are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.