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.

The Affordable Care Act at 5 Years

If it is premature to draw conclusions about the cost effects of the ACA, it is doubly so for the quality effects of the law. The reductions in hospital-acquired conditions and Medicare readmissions since the enactment of the ACA are unprecedented and encouraging, but here again, the causes of these favorable trends are uncertain.

ObamaCare Exchanges Are A Model Of Failure

Of the 37 states that received $2.1 billion in grants to establish an exchange, only 17 did so, and they got an additional $2.7 billion from the feds. Of those 17, two went bankrupt in the first year. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that half of the remaining state exchanges face serious financial problems as they wrestle “with surging costs…and tepid enrollment numbers.”

Contrary to Goals, ER Visits Rise Under Obamacare

A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.

Gonorrhea Cases Spike in Washington, Up 40-Percent

The Department of Health says rates of infection have been rising since 2009 from 34 cases per 100,000 people to 88 cases per 100,000 people in 2014. Health officials say the state’s gonorrhea rates are still below national figures, but they are unsure why the number keeps climbing.

The Demise of Vermont’s Single-Payer Plan

Two factors explain most of the decline in the plan’s financial prospects. First, the anticipated federal revenues from Medicaid and the ACA declined dramatically. Second, Governor Shumlin’s policy choices significantly increased the total projected cost of Green Mountain Care.