Western State crisis shows lack of action, lack of leadership

No one in state government gets to plead ignorance on this one. Western State Hospital, a mental health facility, has been in crisis for years. The deficiencies, management turnover, aging facilities, escapes, and workforce problems are well-known and much discussed. The state has suffered numerous lawsuit losses over conditions at the hospital, and several courts […]

A practical step to fix shameful state of mental health care here

All around us, you see the evidence. In communities around Washington, you see major unmet needs when it comes to helping the mentally ill. You see it in our burgeoning homeless population, where mental health issues and drug addiction reinforce each other. You see it in families struggling to secure care for a loved one, […]

GOP futility on health care is complicated, but simple: They don’t agree

Obamacare is a pretty unimpressive program. It continues to limp along with low participation rates, narrowing options, and rising costs. Insurers on the exchanges will once again seek huge premium increases, and once again we’ll be left wondering why it’s called the Affordable Care Act. All of this is true, yet near-unanimity about Obamacare among […]

McKenna on KIRO: New law lets A.G. target higher drug prices

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about a bill just passed by Maryland’s legislature that would allow the state’s attorney general to ask drug companies for an explanation if a drug’s price is dramatically raised. The company could then be taken to court, where a judge could reverse the price hike. Dave Ross: “So […]

Obamacare’s architect now feels free to speak his mind

At this point, it’s hard to believe there’s anybody left out there who thinks Obamacare is doing just fine. Jonathan Gruber, one of the major architects of the law, is one of them. “There’s no sense in which it needs to be fixed,” Gruber told CNN this week. “The law is working as designed.” The […]

Weren’t Obamacare’s kinks supposed to be worked out by now?

From the beginning, I was skeptical of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, for legal, political, and policy reasons. It turns out, we could have used a lot more skepticism back in 2009 and 2010. On the political side, Obamacare failed to attract Republican support, not least because President Obama […]

Repeal and replace? GOP has intriguing health care plan

Speaker Paul Ryan released House Republicans’ health care plan yesterday. That in itself is a good thing. The new plan is part of the better.gop website I mentioned a few weeks back. Just as important as the details of the plan is the fact that it actually now exists. House Republicans have passed bills to […]

Obamacare rates in WA: 13.5% hike for next year

It’s really not that surprising, but health insurance customers on our state’s Obamacare exchange may be in for some sticker shock soon. Insurers are submitting their rate proposals for next year. According to the Seattle Times, premiums will rise by an average of 13.5% based on the plans customers now purchase: Health insurers in Washington […]

SEIU doesn’t want home care workers to know their rights

Sometimes the simplest cases take the most patience and persistence. Take Olympia’s Freedom Foundation, for example. It wants to contact home care providers, who are paid through the state with Medicaid funds, with a simple message: you don’t have to join a union and pay dues if you’d rather not. The home care workers’ union, […]

Insurers won’t stay in Obamacare for the privilege of losing money

UnitedHealth announced that it will pull out of Obamacare’s exchanges in all but a handful of states. The head of the country’s largest health care provider explained that the move was due to “the smaller overall market size and shorter term, higher risk profile within this market segment”. In other words, not very many people […]