State exchange directors offer enrollment snapshots

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 Washington MapRichard K. Onizuka from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reports that 136,497 of Washington state’s 146,000 new enrollees have already paid their premiums. Almost twice as many people, 268,000, gained Medicaid coverage, he added, and 8,000 people signed up on March 31.

 

By Lisa Gillespie
APRIL 11TH, 2014,

The Obama administration is touting the success of the health law’s open enrollment, which signed up  at least 7.5 million Americans for health coverage through the online insurance marketplaces.

But the experience varied according to states and Families USA brought together five state exchange directors Thursday to talk about what they’ve seen so far. These states – Kentucky, New York, Washington, California and Connecticut — all had functioning exchanges and pursued that health law’s Medicaid expansion.  Continue reading

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Sebelius Resigns; Obama To Name OMB Chief Burwell To Head HHS

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Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

By Mary Agnes Carey
KHN Staff Writer
April 10, 2014

After a five-year tenure that included the flawed rollout of the health care law and stormy relations with Capitol Hill Republicans, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning, a White House official said late Thursday.

President Barack Obama plans to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius, the official said.  Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 11th

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Alzheimer’s support model could save states millions

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And younger man's hand holds an elderly man's handBy Lisa Gillespie

As states eye strategies to control the costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients, a New York model is drawing interest, and findings from a study of Minnesota’s effort to replicate it shows it could lead to significant savings and improved services.  Continue reading

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Doctors’ billing system stays stuck in the ’70s for now

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Medical Records

By Eric Whitney
APR 10, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with NPR

For doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, all the complexities of medicine get boiled down into a system of codes.

These codes are used to track and pay for every procedure – like an 813.02 for mending a broken forearm, or an 800.09 for treating a concussion.

But this coding system is now four decades old, and it doesn’t meet the needs of the medical system today.

It was scheduled to be upgraded this October, but Congress delayed it last week. JaeLynn Williams, for one, is seriously bummed out.

“It’s kind of like looking forward to Christmas, and it doesn’t come,” she says. Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 10th

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Medicare records provide tantalizing details of payments to doctors

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doctor money examine 300By Jordan Rau
KHN Staff Writer
April 9, 2014

Medicare’s release Wednesday of millions of records of payments made to the nation’s doctors comes as the government is looking to find more cost-efficient ways to pay physicians, particularly specialists.

The federal government published data tracing the $77 billion that Medicare paid to physicians, drug testing companies and other medical practitioners throughout 2012, and what services they were being reimbursed for.

The data cover 888,000 different practitioners. More than 6,000 procedures are included, and the full database is so large that it requires statistical software to analyze it.

While the database provides tantalizing details, showing for instance the huge amount ophthalmologists are paid to treat a common eye disorder, experts cautioned that the data can be easily misunderstood and could lead to some doctors’ incomes being unfairly pilloried.  Continue reading

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Primary care Shortage? Not for the insured, study finds

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stethoscope doctor's bag chest x-rayBy Elana Gordon, WHYY
April 9, 2014

Researchers posing as nonelderly adult patients made nearly 13,000 calls to primary care practices across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and eight other states between fall 2012 and spring of last year.

What they found may provide some comfort amid growing concerns of doctor shortages, especially as more people gain coverage through the Affordable Care Act, potentially straining the health system.  Continue reading

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Health news headlines — April 9th

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Another person with measles visited Seattle and Sea-Tac

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Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Local public health officials have confirmed a measles infection in a traveler who was at Sea-Tac airport and two locations in Seattle during his contagious period.

The traveler is a resident of California and was likely exposed to the measles while on a flight with an earlier confirmed measles case on March 21, 2014.

Locations of potential exposure to measles

Before receiving the measles diagnosis, the traveler was in West Seattle and at Sea-Tac Airport.

Anyone who was at Sea-Tac Airport or the locations listed during the following times was possibly exposed to measles:

Seattle

  • Safeway, 9620 28th Ave SW, Sunday, March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Marshalls, 2600 SW Barton Street, Sunday March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Sea-Tac

  • Sea-Tac Airport, Monday, March 31st, 4:30p.m.-8:30p.m.: terminal B

If you were at one of the locations at the times listed above and are not immune to measles, the most likely time you would become sick is between April 7th and April 21st.

What to do if you were in a location of potential measles exposure  Continue reading

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Tried to sign up but couldn’t finish by the deadline?

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Washington Healthplanfinder outlines steps you need to take to qualify for special enrollment

From Washington Healthplanfinder:

Coverage is hereWith the deadline to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org now passed, Washington Healthplanfinder is reaching out to residents who couldn’t complete their application by March 31 with important guidance to qualify for a special enrollment.

Washingtonians who were prevented from submitting their application by the deadline should complete these steps as soon as possible to qualify for coverage that begins May 1, 2014. Continue reading

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Nearly 4 million seriously mentally ill still without insurance

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The 24 states that refused the Medicaid expansion have nearly 4 million people with severe mental illness without insurance.

04_08_top_story_Uninsured-and-Mentally-Ill

By Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

April 8, 2914 — Some might consider Kelly Troyer of South Carolina lucky. She isn’t one of them.

Thanks to the generosity of her church and family members, she receives some treatment for the depression and post-traumatic stress disorder she suffers as a result of the sexual assault she endured in 2012.

But Troyer, 45, said her lack of health insurance and other uncovered medical costs, including a hospitalization and all her medications, has forced her into personal bankruptcy.

She lives in one of the 24 states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs, offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Those decisions have left about 3.7 million Americans with serious mental illness, psychological distress or a substance abuse disorder without health insurance, according to a recent report from the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), a group that represents mental health professionals.  Continue reading

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Jails house 10 times more mentally ill than state hospitals, report

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Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 7.26.27 AMBy Jenny Gold
KHN

April 8, 2014 – In 44 states and the District of Columbia, at least one prison or jail holds more people with serious mental illnesses than the largest state psychiatric hospital, according to a report released Tuesday by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association. Continue reading

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Obama administration retreats on private Medicare rate cuts

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Twenty-dollar bill in a pill bottleBy Jay Hancock
KHN

April 8, 2014 – Under intense, bipartisan political pressure, the Obama administration backed down for the second year in a row on proposed payment cuts for insurance companies that offer private plans to Medicare members.  Continue reading

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You have insurance, now what?

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Blank checklist on clipboard, with large red ticks, and room for text.By Britt Olson
Coverage is Here
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Maybe you have never had health insurance. Or perhaps it has been so long since you were last covered that you don’t recall how to use your policy or what to expect when you do.

Enrolling in an insurance plan is just the starting point for your journey through the health system.

To smooth your trip through the medical complex, and to maximize the benefits of your new insurance policy, here are some tips:  Continue reading

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