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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Mike Kreidler

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June 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Transgender discrimination is illegal, state reminds health insurers

In a letter Wednesday to health insurance companies, the state makes clear that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender policyholders under both state law and the federal Affordable Care Act. Specifically, an insurance company cannot deny services for a transgender person solely on the basis of gender status. Additionally, the health insurer must pay…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Mike Kreidler

June 18, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Seattle Children’s argues in favor of rulings by embattled OIC judge

OIC Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen testifying before the Senate's Law and Justice Committee. TVW

OIC Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen testifying before the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee. TVW

Seattle Children’s hospital on Tuesday made another move in the high-profile legal tussle over which facilities and doctors must be included in insurance plan networks in order to adequately protect customers.

The case — already significant because of the importance of the network adequacy debate — became even more controversial following allegations that the judge overseeing the dispute has been unfairly influenced. The allegations came from the judge herself, Patricia Petersen, chief presiding officer at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

The controversy started last summer, when the OIC approved insurance plans to be sold in Washington’s health insurance marketplace. Those plans included ones that did not have Seattle Children’s in their coverage. In response, the hospital demanded a hearing with OIC, arguing that the plans are inadequate for failing to include their facility because of the unique services provided there.

There has not been a hearing yet, but from December to early May, Petersen has issued orders concerning the case.

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Comments | Topics: health insurance, Mike Kreidler, network adequacy

June 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Whistleblower testifies before state senators on fairness of OIC

State senators on Monday heard testimony as to whether people and companies who challenge rulings by some state agencies are getting a fair shake.

Specifically, the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee held a work session to delve into the role of the administrative hearing officer that presides over disputes at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. They were considering three ideas that could be shaped into proposed laws that would give the hearing officers greater independence when deciding cases.

The work session was held in response to a high-profile dispute in which the OIC’s Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen says she was inappropriately contacted by an OIC official and pressured to decide cases in line with what Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wanted.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Mike Kreidler

June 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Beleaguered insurance judge to speak at upcoming Senate session

Patricia Petersen, recently suspended as the state insurance office’s chief hearings officer, will break her silence to speak at a Senate work session later this month. Her lawyer, Phil Talmadge, a former state Supreme Court justice who as a state legislator helped create a state office for administrative hearings, said she will speak about judicial independence,…

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Comments | Topics: Jim Odiorne, Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

May 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Auditor’s office won’t investigate judge’s claims of pressure on cases

The State Auditor’s Office has declined to investigate a whistleblower complaint by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s administrative-law judge, who alleged that she has been improperly contacted and pressured by the OIC’s chief deputy on cases before her.   In a letter to the insurance office’s Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen, the auditor’s whistleblower manager,  Jim…

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Comments | Topics: ex parte communications, Jim Odiorne, Mike Kreidler

May 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

More 2015 health plan choices likely for exchange shoppers

On average, the rate increase requested for 2015 individual health plans is 8.25 percent ­– the lowest in seven years, according to figures kept by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. That “relatively low” weighted average increase in proposed premiums is just one of the developments that has pleased Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, whose office will now be…

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Comments | Topics: BridgeSpan Health Co., Healthplanfinder, individual health insurance

March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Washington won’t revive canceled insurance plans

Coverage is Here iconWashington residents are not affected by President Obama’s announcement that canceled health insurance plans will be extended by an additional two years.

Plans that expired at the end of 2013 will stay dead in Washington, the state’s insurance commissioner confirmed Wednesday.

After getting hammered by critics for his pledge that if you liked your insurance coverage you could keep it, Obama in November gave states the option of bringing back discontinued health plans for a year. This week he upped it by two more years.

Roughly 230,000 people in Washington received letters this fall informing them that their current plans were being eliminated because they failed to meet the new requirements prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. The customers were offered new plans by their insurance company, often at a higher price.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler quickly declined Obama’s offer to bring back the defunct plans, citing concerns that it would add confusion to the market and create a logistical challenge.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, discontinued plans, health insurance

December 13, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Insurance commissioner offers advice for getting health coverage by Jan. 1

Deadlines are fast approaching for thousands of Washington residents who still need to sign up for health insurance if they want coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014. For those consumers, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is offering several suggestions. First, make sure you know the deadlines for health-insurance policies available both inside and outside Healthplanfinder, the state’s…

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Comments | Topics: Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Healthplanfinder

December 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Kreidler to testify Wednesday before U.S. House subcommittee

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who refused President Obama’s offer to let people keep discontinued health plans, will testify before the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee early Wednesday morning about how the Affordable Care Act is working in Washington. Kreidler was invited to testify by Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Seattle, who serves as…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, discontinued plans, Jim McDermott

November 20, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Other states mixed on canceled insurance-plan question

Brad Camp's health-insurance plan was canceled, but he looks forward to better coverage for himself and his kids, Vicky, 15, and Nickolas, 10. Photo by the Times' Greg Gilbert.

Brad Camp’s health insurance plan was canceled, but he looks forward to better coverage for himself and his kids, Vicky, 15, and Nickolas, 10. Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times.

After President Obama last week announced that states would have the option of asking insurers to revive canceled health-insurance plans, Washington’s insurance commissioner immediately nixed the idea.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler explained his decision, saying Washington’s Healthplanfinder insurance exchange is working, and that allowing a bunch of people to re-up on plans deemed insufficient threatens the success of the new system.

The premise of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that nearly everyone has comprehensive insurance coverage through insurance plans or public programs, sharing the costs for medical care among the old and young, the healthy and ill. Kreidler had numerous questions and concerns about how changing the rules for insurance plans work work this late in the game.

So what did the rest of the nation do? The New York Times has a nifty graphic illustrating who’s doing what. It turns out seven other states have joined Washington’s thanks-but-no-thanks position, including New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota. Those open to extending the plans include Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

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Comments | Topics: Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commisioner, Washington Healthplanfinder

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