health care

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government funded but its "continuing resolution" comes with a poison pill to defund the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have vowed is dead on arrival in the Senate.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Gene White of Des Moines, Wash., has had a litany of health problems in recent years: testicular cancer; cancer in his nervous system; pneumonia; the fungus Aspergillus infecting his lungs. The retired airline pilot says he got great care at Swedish Medical Center and the other Seattle hospitals that helped him survive those life-threatening diseases.

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, The Stranger's Eli Sanders and Peter Jackson of the Everett Herald. This week President Obama said he'll ask Congress to approve a military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 Governor Inslee floated the idea of another special legislative session to get a transportation package passed. Plus, Microsoft buys a $7.2 billion chunk of Nokia, Amazon's Jeff Bezos makes his first visit to the Washington Post as its newest owner and former president Bill Clinton tries to explain the Affordable Care Act to America. 

There are nearly 900 registered lobbyists in Washington state. These are the paid professionals who try to influence the outcome of the legislative process. But this year, a determined dad proved even outsiders can play the legislative game – with a bit of help.

So how does a Microsoft test manager become a citizen lobbyist? For Jeff Schwartz it all started back in 2007 when his son Jacob was about four months old.

“It was right about December that he started excessively throwing up and vomiting,” Schwartz recalls.

Doctor
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It will be another week before Washington consumers will know how many new certified health plans will be be sold in the exchange. The exchange is a web-based market for health insurance that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. The nine-member board that governs the exchange voted Thursday to delay certification until next week.

For decades, rural parts of the Northwest have found it difficult to lure doctors to small towns. Community leaders in Yakima, Wash. went so far as to found a small medical school to train doctors to practice in these underserved areas.

The Pacific Northwest University opened in 2006. But there is a problem. Small towns throughout the region just don’t have enough residency programs. And that means many of these doctors-in-training may move away.

A federal review team is taking a close look at the Snohomish County Jail in Everett this week. The review comes after last month’s death of a jail inmate. It was the eighth such death since 2010.

KUOW Photo/Madeline Ewbank

This week state and county officials met with local ethnic media. They hope the media will help them get the word out to non-English speakers about health care changes coming this fall.

The briefing was part of a statewide campaign to let consumers know that beginning in October, there will be 31 new health plans available for purchase at the state’s online marketplace. But the challenge for organizers will be more than just language barriers.

Cutting Through Obamacare Rollout Confusion

Aug 13, 2013

 The pace of implementation for the Affordable Care Act, known by critics and the president himself as Obamacare, is picking up this fall. Starting October 1 you can start shopping for a health plan in Washington state's new insurance exchange called Healthplanfinder. Obamacare is supposed to be fully in place by early next year. But there’s still a lot of confusion. Ross Reynolds tries to cut through some of that confusion by talking with Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and taking listener calls.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Medical mistakes are a leading cause of death and injury in America. One of the most frequent mishaps in Washington hospitals: patients who fall. A fall in a hospital can lead to serious complications, even death. Medical experts say that kind of fall should never happen.

One Small Step, One Big Fall

Helen Funston lies on her back in a darkened room. She pushes her shoulder down into physical therapist Stella In’s hand until she gasps with pain.

Funston tells In the pain is an eight out of 10.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

About 30 times a year, a hospital in Washington state leaves a sponge or surgical instrument inside one of its patients. The accident known as a “retained foreign object” is one of the state’s most commonly reported medical mistakes.

Flickr Photo/Felipe Fortes

Providing Equal Health Care
The Human Rights Campaign released its 2013 Healthcare Equality Index. The HEI is a survey of how health care facilities treat patients from the LGBT community. Both UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance were recognized for being  a “leader in LGBT health care equality." What does it mean to provide LGBT patient-centered care? Nicki McCraw, the assistant vice president of human resources for UW Medicine explains.  

Art Of Our City
This year could be the last time audiences see Seattle Opera’s current production of the Ring Cycle.  The four-part opera marathon is the story of Norse gods and goddesses, love and greed. The final opera, “Twilight of the Gods," ends with the destruction of the world as the gods and goddesses know it. What does it take to end the world?  Seattle Opera technical director Robert Schaub knows. He’s the man who helped turn the artistic vision into stage reality. Schaub took Marcie Sillman behind the scenes and then sat down to talk about theater magic.

The Interfaith Amigos On The Role Of Ritual
All of us have rituals we engage in.  Maybe you eat lunch at the same restaurant every day.  Maybe you celebrate the holidays each year in a similar manner.  How important is ritual to the human experience? The Interfaith Amigos muse on this subject.

What You Need To Know About Long Term Care Insurance

Jul 8, 2013

  Long term health care insurance is becoming harder to come by. The number of providers is shrinking and premium costs are soaring. Obama’s Affordable Care Act doesn’t provide a solution either. The administration abandoned efforts to include affordable long-term care after concluding it was too expensive. So as baby boomers age, many are left with few options for long term care.  What to do?  Aaron Katz, a professor at University of Washington's Department of Health Services, spoke about it with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds.

Oregon and Idaho need more dentists. That's according to a new study out Tuesday from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It puts Oregon and Idaho among the top 10 states with the worst shortages.

Unless you live in a rural area, you probably haven't felt the dearth of dentists found in the Pew study. As Portland dentist Jill Price puts it, the problem isn't so much a shortage as poor distribution. She says, “We need to find ways to move people into the outlying areas.”

Debate Over Catholic Health Care Expansion In Washington State

Jun 4, 2013
Flickr Photo/Michael Holden

 Last year the secular Swedish Medical Center stopped performing elective abortions after affiliating with a Catholic health care provider, Providence Health & Services. Now some organizations in Washington state are calling for a moratorium on similar contracts between secular, publicly funded hospitals and religious providers. They fear patients in the state could see a reduction in access to services.

What happens when faith and health care mix? Should the state do anything about it? Ross Reynolds talks with Peter Adler, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Catholic provider Peacehealth, and Kathleen Turner, head of the ACLU of Washington.

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