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.

Lawmakers Respond to Court Rebuke by Allowing Inmate Treatment in Jails, Community

The Legislature responded Thursday to a federal judge’s demand to cut crime suspects’ wait times for mental-health services to no more than seven days. Lawmakers will decide in their ongoing budget negotiations how much to spend to address the ruling, but the policy changes they sent to Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday for his signature would expand the kinds of places where inmates can be treated.

Health Insurers Seek Hefty Rate Boosts

In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Washington state and Vermont, the market leaders have sought relatively modest average increases, akin to those proposed last year, of 9.6% and 8.4%, respectively.

USDA Creates Certification, Label for GMO-Free Food

The Agriculture Department (USDA) has developed a new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Small-Business Employees’ Group Slams Washington State For Rejecting Health Plans

While the Washington Education Association health trust won approval, dozens of other associations and trusts with plans covering hundreds of thousands of small-business employees and their households have either been denied by the State Insurance Commissioner or are in limbo, awaiting a decision. Of Washington state’s more than 60 association and trust plans, 11 are approved, nine are under review and the rest have been rejected.