You are currently viewing all posts written by Beth Kaiman.
November 16, 2013 at 7:20 PM
By The Associated Press
PORTLAND — The board of Oregon’s health-insurance exchange has put its executive director on notice, demanding to know when the website will work and how Cover Oregon will get people enrolled by the end of the year.
Board members held an executive session Thursday to discuss Rocky King’s performance and then passed resolutions calling for new target dates by next Friday, The Oregonian reported.
The online exchange has been plagued by technical problems since its launch and has not enrolled a single person.
Members of the board criticized the shifting timelines on the project. The state had at first promised a fix by the end of October. But later, Gov. John Kitzhaber said the website may not be fixed before Dec. 31.
Officials are now urging people to fill out a 19-page paper application or an online PDF form and are hand-processing those applications
Oregonians who qualify for a subsidy must enroll through Cover Oregon by a Dec. 15 deadline in order to have coverage that’s effective Jan. 1.
King says the staff is making progress and is optimistic about solving the problems. He also said he has asked the federal government for seven people to help get the website operational, but none have been provided so far.
King said the board’s questions will be answered, and he and his staff haven’t been withholding any information.
The board also expressed mistrust of the state’s technology contractor, asking Oracle Vice President Tom Budnar to answer for a record of missed deadlines. Budnar said a “SWAT team” and additional people have been brought in to fix the site so Oregonians are able to enroll by the end of December.
The board will hold a meeting Dec. 2 to discuss the new plans and target dates submitted by King.
November 8, 2013 at 7:19 PM
If you’re considering signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and would rather talk to a human being than deal only with a website, an event Saturday in Kent could be of help.
Experts from Public Health – Seattle & King County and other organizations will answer questions about insurance plans and financial aid, and help people sign up for coverage.
The event in Kent will run from 2 to 5 p.m. inside a giant trailer parked at the Kent Memorial Park Building, 850 Central Ave. N.
If you think you might enroll or just want to check eligibility, make sure to bring the following information and documents:
■Names, birthdays, address and contact info for all the members of your household;
■Social Security numbers;
■Passport, alien, or other immigration numbers for any immigrants in the country lawfully who need health-care coverage;
■Estimated tax status for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for all household members;
■Income information for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for all adults and all minors age 14 or older who are required to file a tax return;
■Information about health insurance available to your family (Employer-sponsored insurance, Medicare, TriCare, PeaceCorps insurance, etc.)
South King County has the county’s highest concentrations of people without health insurance, with rates approaching 30 percent in some areas, according to the health agency.
The Washington Healthplanfinder event in Kent is an effort of Public Health – Seattle & King County and these partner organizations: Global to Local, HealthPoint, SeaMar, International Community Health Services, WithinReach Washington and World Relief.
October 18, 2013 at 6:30 AM
If you live on the Eastside and want to learn more about possibly buying health-insurance coverage on the state’s new exchange, Saturday presents a good opportunity.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crossroads Bellevue mall, staff known as “assisters” will be on hand to help you compare coverage plans, determine eligibility for subsidies, or navigate the state’s new health-insurance website. The mall is at 15600 N.E. Eighth Street in Bellevue. Translators will be available for those whose first language is not English.
Public Health-Seattle & King County is sponsoring the event.
If you are considering enrolling, you’ll want to have this information with you:
■ Names, birthdays, address and contact information for everyone in your household;
■ Social Security numbers;
■ Passport, alien, or other immigration numbers — for any legal immigrants who want health-care coverage;
■ Estimated tax status for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for all household members;
■ Income information for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for all adults and all minors age 14 or older who are required to file a tax return;
■ Information about health insurance already available to your family, such as employer-sponsored insurance, Medicare or TriCare.
Most people are signing for coverage by using the state’s insurance-exchange website, Washington Healthplanfinder. Still, according to the public health agency, more than 180 people attended an advice and signup event in Lake Forest Park last week, and 150 to an earlier event at Garfield Community Center in Seattle.
The health agency reports that more than 11,000 Bellevue residents are uninsured, as are 4,000 in Redmond — and most are eligible for low-cost or free insurance.
October 17, 2013 at 1:55 PM
Here’s a story of out of Idaho about a board member of that state’s health-insurance exchange whose company got a no-bid contract from — wait for it — the health-insurance exchange.
Nice work if you can get it?
Oh, he quit the exchange the same day the exchange awarded his company the contract worth up to $375,000.
By John Miller
The Associated Press
BOISE — A board member of the Idaho health-insurance exchange quit Wednesday, the same day the exchange awarded his company a no-bid contract worth up to $375,000.
Frank Chan resigned from the Your Health Idaho board to avoid the appearance of “conflict of interest,” board members said. Chan’s company, Boise-based Applied Computing, will serve as the exchange’s information-technology consultant.
Earlier this year, Chan was appointed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to help oversee the Internet marketplace created under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. It allows people to shop for insurance and learn if they qualify for federal subsidies. He had been technology chairman of the 19-member volunteer board.
Chan will now earn $180 an hour to oversee the exchange’s technology vendors as it works to replace a glitch-filled federal software system with one that’s state-based by next year. The exchange is seeking a $50 million, taxpayer-funded grant from the federal government to pay for that project.
Amy Dowd, Your Health Idaho executive director, said Thursday that she gave Chan the contract without advertising it under an “interim procurement policy.” The policy hasn’t gotten final board approval, but it allows her to quickly sign contracts without seeking potential interest from other vendors, she said.
“This is my direction from the board, to operate under this procurement policy,” Dowd said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time. I believe Frank is the best, based on our timeline. Applied Computing is best positioned to help the exchange right now.”
Dowd said the governor’s office was informed of the deal.
Chan didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment. His company already does business with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Generally, Idaho requires public contracts that exceed $25,000 to be awarded competitively.
Idaho’s Legislature this year required the exchange to solicit bids but then exempted it from state procurement rules, allowing its leaders to largely set its own policies on deals with private vendors.
So far, the exchange’s interim procurement policy doesn’t name a value for contracts that would generally trigger a competitive bidding requirement. In May, the board said it intended to establish those thresholds with Dowd’s help, but so far, it hasn’t happened.
The policy is still in draft form, according to a copy provided to The Associated Press.
Stephen Weeg, Your Health Idaho board chairman, conceded that Chan’s contract terms weren’t vetted by the board or advertised publicly.
Still, Weeg insists striking the deal swiftly was important because the exchange must meet key deadlines to have its state technology system in place by next October. It’s aiming to replace the glitch-plagued federal system that has bogged down enrollments since Your Health Idaho launched Oct. 1.
“We’re operating under an incredibly tight time frame,” Weeg said. “Because of his (Chan’s) skills and because of his interest, this is the person who can help make this succeed.”
Other board members were caught flatfooted by Chan’s resignation and his company’s contract award.
Board member and state Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, said Wednesday’s announcement was the first she’d heard of it.
“I was surprised,” Packer said Thursday. She said she neither knew he had resigned nor that he was bidding on a proposal.
October 11, 2013 at 7:27 AM
Those wanting to talk to a real, live human being about finding insurance on the Washington state exchange can attend an event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Lake Forest Park.
For many, this might prove easier than going online. Help will be on hand at Third Place Commons, 17171 Bothell Way, N.E.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is putting out the word about the event, which will allow people to learn more about Washington Heathplanfinder, compare health-care plans side by side and find out whether financial help might be available.
There will be help for people who speak English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Somali.
To enroll, you’ll need to have your Social Security number and information on your income. Legal immigrants will need to supply a passport and some other documentation.
October 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM
Dental care for adults on Medicaid, cut during the state’s fiscal crisis, will be restored as of Jan. 1, according to the state’s Health Care Authority.
Adults enrolling in Apple Health/Medicaid under the new, higher-income eligibility rules that go into effect Jan. 1 as part of the Affordable Care Act will qualify for care as well as those already enrolled.
The benefit will cover restorative and preventive services, dentures, root canals, cavity care and routine checkups and cleanings, as well as emergency services such as extraction, pain or infection relief and treatment of trauma-caused damage.
The earlier cuts in service were a “major hardship” for elderly and disabled adults, said Dorothy Teeter, director of the state agency.
The agency began notifiying dentists this month about the restoration of service.
September 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Are you still trying to figure out what the Affordable Care Act will mean for you? As the online marketplace or health-insurance exchange gets ready to open next Tuesday for those looking to buy individual coverage, you likely have questions.
Here are the basics, 20 things to know about the Affordable Care Act, one of several pieces that appeared in our special user’s guide this week. That should help, but maybe you’re also hoping to ask some questions directly of a representative from the state.
Here are two opportunities in North Seattle we’ve heard about: This Sunday, and again on Nov. 10, Carolyn Smith from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner will make a 45-minute presentation about what the health-care law will change and what it won’t. Her talk will be followed by a 45-minute Q & A period. Both events run from 3 to 4:30 p.m at Wedgwood Community Church, 8201 30th Ave., NE.
About the blog
Trending with readers