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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

December 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

State wins $65 million grant for health-care effort

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that Washington state has been awarded a $65 million federal grant to fund an effort to deliver better health care more efficiently.

The four-year grant will help implement the state’s Health Care Innovation Plan beginning in February, and the effort — dubbed Healthier Washington — will be led by the state’s Health Care Authority (HCA), which manages the Medicaid program. Washington is one of 11 states that will share $622 million granted by the U.S. government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to implement a health-care innovation program.

The project began with a $1 million State Innovation Model grant that assembled a group of stakeholders, including representatives from state and local government, public health, delivery systems, business, health plans, consumer groups, labor, tribal entities, providers and community organizations. That effort resulted in the plan to reform health care, which has been endorsed by a who’s who list of Washington’s health-care leaders.

“I want every family to have access to affordable, effective health care, a healthy environment and an opportunity to learn so they and their kids thrive,” Inslee said in a statement.

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Comments | Topics: All-Payer Claims Database, health insurance, mental health

December 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Exchange withholds payments to contractor Deloitte over glitches

Washington state’s health insurance exchange is withholding payments to its primary technology contractor, Deloitte, as a result of repeated problems with the Washington Healthplanfinder website and the exchange’s payments and accounts systems. While the Healthplanfinder website has been more stable during the current open enrollment period than it was in the first open enrollment last year, glitches continue…

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December 16, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Update: Exchange site back up after being down — again

Update, 3:15 p.m.: The Washington Healthplanfinder site is back up and running. According to exchange spokeswoman Bethany Frey, the exchange’s system integrator, Deloitte, made an error while implementing a manual data fix to customer invoices yesterday evening. “This involved making changes to a limited number of customer invoices that should not have been altered,” she said. “The…

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December 16, 2014 at 1:30 PM

State insurance exchange working well for Medicaid

Entry point for enrolling in Apple Health.

Entry point for enrolling in Apple Health.

Washington’s exchange website — the one that has struggled with glitches in its sales of insurance plans — is smoothly managing its Medicaid accounts. Since October, the exchange has been automatically renewing Medicaid enrollees with no significant problems. In December alone, some 150,000 Medicaid participants automatically re-enrolled in the program.

Approximately 1.6 million state residents are in Medicaid, which is locally called Apple Health. Because people can sign up for federal program at anytime, they come up for renewal throughout the year.

“Making the renewal process for Washington Apple Health clients as seamless as possible is a top priority for us, and we are pleased that is happening so that people can continue accessing the care they need,” said MaryAnne Lindeblad, state Medicaid director at the Health Care Authority, in an email.

The exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder, is the entry point for people enrolling in Medicaid as well as those shopping for insurance as individuals or small businesses. The  website launched in October 2013.

Since the launch, 480,000 new participants have signed up for Medicaid. That includes people who were previously eligible for the free health-care program but had not enrolled, as well as people who are newly eligible to participate in Medicaid. Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Washington is one of 27 states that elected to expand who qualifies for Medicaid in order to bring the program to more low-income people.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Apple Health, Medicaid

December 11, 2014 at 6:50 PM

State is one-quarter of way toward Obamacare enrollment goals

Close to 56,000 people have bought health insurance or renewed their coverage through the state’s online exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder. The state is slightly more than one-quarter of the way toward its goal of enrolling 215,000 people by mid-February.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about where we are,” said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the exchange.

In this second round of insurance enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, roughly 10,000 of the people signing up are new customers to the exchange. The state hopes to bring that number up to 85,000 by the close of open enrollment on Feb. 15. The other 46,000 are renewing customers.

Washington residents who want to make sure they have coverage on Jan. 1 must either sign up or renew their plan, plus make their first monthly premium payment, by Dec. 23.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

December 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Exchange, insurance commissioner at odds over glitches and transparency

The most recent glitch on the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange has resulted in an unwelcome hassle for the 6,000 consumers whose enrollments were mistakenly canceled and in rising tension between the state insurance commissioner and exchange staff. On Wednesday, the day after the glitch was disclosed in a press release, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler sent a…

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December 2, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Another glitch afflicts an estimated 6,000 health exchange customers

About 6,000 enrollments in health plans offered by the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange were improperly canceled because of an error, according to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which manages the exchange. “Early analysis indicates that our system integrator, Deloitte, ran an automated enrollment cancellation process in error,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO of the exchange, in…

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