Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) supports the Washington State Health Benefits Exchange

The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) has announced support for the Governor’s requested legislation on the Washington State Health Benefits Exchange (SB 6178/HB 2319), authorized by the Affordable Care Act. WSMA testimony before the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee and the House Health Care and Wellness Committee made the following points:
·         The WSMA supports an Exchange that promotes the purchase of health insurance, ensures administrative simplification, ensures patients have access to local providers, provides coverage for key benefits and promotes the viability of physicians and their medical practices.
·         Qualified Health Plans - Any decisions to expand Qualified Health Plan standards should be analyzed carefully with mindfulness towards barriers that can limit access to affordable health coverage.
·         Market Rules - The exchange must be stable and sustainable. Market rules imposed should keep an eye on affordability for patients and the viability of medical practices.
·         Powers of the Exchange Board and the Office of Insurance Commissioner (OIC) - In regulating the Exchange, the Board must be responsive to the interests and needs of Washington’s physicians and consumers. Policies that drive payment rates down to Medicaid levels will jeopardize access to care.
·         Washington High Risk Insurance Pool - WSMA supports operation of the WSHIP for patients who are most vulnerable. Consideration should be given towards keeping it open past January 1, 2014.
In my view, this common sense input is important advice to heed that will make our Washington State Health Benefits Exchange strong, sustainable and useful.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Announcement from Larry Thompson, Director of the Whatcom Alliance for Health Care Access

A momentous accomplishment for our community that will go a log way to assist in our work to build a safe, efficient and effective Accountable Care Organization for Whatcom County.

"I am pleased to announce that the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) has recommended the Whatcom Alliance for Health Care Access (WAHA) for award of funds under the Care Transitions program (Project Impact). There are conditions on this award which have not yet been shared with us. We are scheduled to review these conditions by phone with CMS on January 17.

This is a multi-year award which carries with it up to $5.7 million to reimburse us for the cost of assisting patients to make safe transitions between care settings.

As you can appreciate, this is one key piece of several funding awards we must secure to fully implement the vision called for in our Phase I ACO work. On the other hand, the scale of the award relative to the current WAHA budget will present us all with stewardship and management challenges.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our many community partners in this venture without whom this effort is merely a shell. As well, please join me in thanking our staff, especially Elya Moore, whose hard work and inspiration led to this success.

Larry Thompson"