Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka to Step Down

Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, says he’ll step down effective Aug. 31. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange faced serious challenges in getting the website and payment system up and running. There were issues with site crashes, then with invoicing and payments.

Public Health in the Precision-Medicine Era

The Whitehall Studies of the British Civil Service in the United Kingdom revealed that even when health care services were provided as a matter of right and the cost of care was no longer a barrier to treatment, a marked social gradient persisted, as a substantial proportion of the population fared poorly on health indicators. Moreover, the inequity did not manifest simply as a gap between the rich and privileged and the poor and disenfranchised: people at every income level did better than those at the level just below them.

State’s Medicaid Shift to Preventive Coverage Could Help Cut Health Care Costs

Apple Health has asked for $3 billion from the federal government over the next five years to fund nontraditional services that are becoming focuses of the health care industry after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The state is applying for a government waiver that would allow these Medicaid funds to have more flexibility in how they can be used.

Health Care Spending Growth Trends: Keeping An Eye On Spending Per Person

New health spending data for 2014 and spending projections over the next decade from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary were just published in Health Affairs. They show that total growth in health spending picked up in 2014; this was expected given the significant expansion of insurance coverage and the release of expensive new drugs for hepatitis C.

Five Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly 1 in 4 Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Health Law Experiment Failed To Show Savings

A $57 million experiment to deliver better, more efficient care at federally funded health centers struggled to meet its goals and is unlikely to save money, says a new government report. Admissions and emergency-room care rose in medical homes and clinics that were part of the experiment compared with results in those that weren’t. So did expenses.

State Health Insurance Markets Struggle with Cost Challenges

Twelve states and the District of Columbia fully control their markets. Experts estimate about half face financial difficulties. Hawaii is the third state exchange going to the federal sign-up system, following Nevada and Oregon, which made the switch last year.

Tough Pill to Swallow: Oregon Faces a $500M Medicaid Deficit

In December 2012, the federal government agreed to give Oregon $1.9 billion over five years to support the state’s efforts to reform the way it delivers Medicaid services.
Less than three years later, with the end of the federal largesse on the horizon, Oregon is looking at a projected $500 million deficit.

The Newest Obamacare Fail: Penalties of $36,500 Per Worker

Hey, employers, don’t even think about reimbursing your workers’ health-insurance premiums. Beginning this month, the IRS can levy fines amounting to $100 per worker per day or $36,500 per worker per year, with a maximum of $500,000 per firm.

Health Care Tax Faces United Opposition From Labor and Employers

A new coalition comprising major corporations, including Cigna and Pfizer, as well as union groups and associations, called the Alliance to Fight the 40, plans to begin a formal campaign against the tax later this month. Called the Cadillac tax, it applies to an individual policy costing more than $10,200 a year and a family policy over $27,500. The tax goes into effect in 2018.