Washington state disciplines healthcare providers

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March 7th, 2014 Update

Periodically Washington State Department of Health issues an update on disciplinary actions taken against health care providers, including suspensions and revocations of licenses, certifications, or registrations of providers in the state.

The department also suspends the credentials of people who have been prohibited from practicing in other states.

Information about health care providers is also on the agency’s website.

To find this information click on “Provider Credential Search” on the left hand side of the Department of Health home page (www.doh.wa.gov).

The site includes information about a health care provider’s license status, the expiration and renewal date of their credential, disciplinary actions and copies of legal documents issued after July 1998.

This information is also available by calling 360-236-4700.

Consumers who think a health care provider acted unprofessionally are also encouraged to call and report their complaint.

Here is the March 7th update issued by the Washington State Department of Health: Continue reading

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Can I buy an exchange plan when my policy expires in May?

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Question Q&ABy Michelle Andrews
KHN

Q. My pre-Affordable Care Act individual health policy runs from May 2013 to May 2014. Will I be able to sign up for an exchange policy to begin May 1, 2014?

A. Yes, when your individual plan comes up for renewal you have a limited window starting 30 days before your policy year ends to sign up for a marketplace plan, says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

But you don’t have to wait to switch until your policy year ends, say experts. Continue reading

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One-in-three nursing home patients harmed by substandard care – report

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Magnifying GlassBy Susan Jaffe
KHN
MAR 07, 2014

 This KHN story was produced in collaboration with wapo

Federal efforts to strengthen inspections of the nation’s nursing homes are gaining momentum after a government probe uncovered instances of substandard care.

The March 3 report by the HHS Inspector General found that an estimated one-third of residents suffered harm because of substandard care and that the chances of nursing home inspectors discovering these “adverse events” are “slim to none,” said Ruth Ann Dorrill, a deputy regional director for the inspector general and the manager of the investigation.  Continue reading

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Telemedicine challenges physician licensing rules

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video-cameraBy Christine Vestal,
Stateline Staff Writer

Demand for doctors – whether in person or via a computer screen – is expected to surge as millions more Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act. About 10 million people already rely on telemedicine, often from doctors who live in another state.

As a result, more physicians are applying for medical licenses in multiple states – a costly and time-consuming proposition for some.

Without a license to practice medicine in the patient’s state of residence, both doctors and patients may be at legal risk.

Many states are embracing telemedicine by encouraging it in their Medicaid programs and requiring private insurers to pay for it. Continue reading

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Health news headlines — March 7th

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Changes to health law rules include extra month to enroll in 2015

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ACA health reform logoBy Mary Agnes Carey
KHN Staff Writer

The Obama administration on Wednesday released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015. Continue reading

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Health news headlines — March 7th

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Obama’s decision to extend non-compliant health plans will not apply to Washington state.

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The Obama administration’s decision to allow non-compliant or previously cancelled health plans to continue for another two years will not apply to Washington state, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner said Wednesday.

Here are details from the commissioner’s office.

The Obama administration first made the offer to extend non-complaint or cancelled plans for one year last November, but left the decision up to individual state insurance commissioners and the health insurers.

Washington state’s insurance commissioner decided that allowing cancelled health plans to continue would not be in the best interest of the health insurance market and would ultimately harm consumers.

Since this announcement last fall, all of the health insurers in the state have confirmed that they support this decision.

Today’s announcement applies only to those non-compliant or cancelled plans that were given extensions into 2014.  Since Washington state did not allow the first extension of these plans, the additional two years also do not apply here.

“The decision I made in November was done in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Advocates and health insurers continue to support my decision. They understand that allowing previously cancelled plans to continue would only raise premiums for everyone and would greatly disrupt the competitive market that we are building in Washington.”

Like Washington, many states decided against extending non-compliant plans, which had large out-of-pocket costs and no coverage for maternity care or prescription drugs.

Kreidler urged individuals to consider all of their options for new plans that have increased benefits, such as maternity care, coverage for prescription drugs and no rejection because of a pre-existing condition, among others.

There are 46 individual health plans for sale in Washington Healthplanfinder, where many people are likely to qualify for subsidies for premiums. Another 51 plans are available outside of the Exchange. If you need help reviewing your options, contact a navigator or an agent or broker.

Open enrollment for all individual health plans – both inside and outside the Exchange – ends March 31. Medicaid (Apple Health) enrollment continues all year long.

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Groups make final push to sign people up for Obamacare

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Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 14.54.05By Phil Galewitz
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 05, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with 

It’s crunch time for Obamacare: With less than four weeks left to sign up for coverage this year through the health law’s insurance marketplaces, consumer groups, insurers, hospitals and state and federal officials are ratcheting up their enrollment campaigns to deliver more people — particularly young adults.

  • Enroll America, a nonprofit group with ties to the Obama administration, is sending buses to Texas and Ohio to talk up new coverage options.
  • Tenet Healthcare Corp., a large national hospital chain, is reaching out to people without insurance who frequent their emergency rooms.
  • The federal government will air ads during the “March Madness” college basketball playoffs that start March 16, and during shows popular with young people, such as Family Guy, The Vampire Diaries and The X Factor. Continue reading
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Why hospitals are failing civilians who get PTSD

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Gunby Lois Beckett
ProPublica, March 4, 2014

More than 20 percent of civilians with traumatic injuries may develop PTSD. Trauma surgeons explain why many hospitals aren’t doing anything about it.

Undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder is having a major impact on injured civilians, particularly those with violent injuries, as Propublica detailed last month.

One national study of patients with traumatic injuries found that more than 20 percent of them developed PTSD.

But many hospitals still have no systematic approach to identifying patients with PTSD or helping them get treatment.

We surveyed 21 top-level trauma centers in cities with high rates of violence. The results show that trauma surgeons across the country see PTSD as a serious problem.  Continue reading

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There’s a life-saving hepatitis C drug. But you may not be able to afford it.

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Sovaldi logoBy Julie Appleby
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 03, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with 

There’s a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C.  But it costs $84,000 – or $1,000 a pill.

And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it.

Called Sovaldi, the drug is made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. and is the latest in handful of new treatments for hepatitis C, a chronic infection that afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver failure. It was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in December. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – March 5th

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Study seeks to reduce teen suicide and self-harm

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Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 14.55.44The University of Washington & Seattle Children’s Hospital will be offering a free clinic for suicidal and self-harming teens as part of a research study to improve treatments for these young people.

Participants in the CARES (Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotion and Suicide) study will be provided the clinic’s services for free.

The clinic is now accepting teenagers (ages 13-18) who are seeking treatment for suicidal or self-injurious behaviors.

WHAT’S INVOLVED:

  • Eligible teen and parent will participate in 6 months of treatment.
  • Treatment is typically weekly and includes both individual and group components.
  • Teens and parents also complete questionnaires and interviews.

Interested families can get more information by:

Calling the CARES Study at: 206-221-CARE or emailing caresuw@uw.edu

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As full disclosure nears, doctors’ pay for drug talks plummets

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Dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Charles OrnsteinEric Sagara and Ryann Grochowski Jones
ProPublica, March 3, 2014

Some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies have slashed payments to health professionals for promotional speeches amid heightened public scrutiny of such spending, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Continue reading

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Health law provides no guarantees of access to midwives, birthing centers

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PregnancyBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

Insurance coverage for maternity care is required in most individual and small group plans under the federal health law, extendingsuch coverage to plans where it used to be rare.

But for women who are interested in services provided by midwives and birthing centers, there are no coverage guarantees, despite the law’s provisions that prohibit insurers from discriminating against licensed medical providers.

Most women give birth in hospitals and are attended by obstetricians, but a growing number choose to deliver their babies at birth centers.

The centers, typically staffed by midwives, offer women who are at low risk for complications an alternative to traditional hospital labor and delivery, eschewing common medical interventions such as drugs to induce labor and electronic fetal monitors, among other things. Continue reading

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