Teal Victoria reads to her 3-year-old daughter Kai at their northeast Seattle home. Kai is on a ventilator and is cared for around the clock at home by her mother and her nurses.
Courtesy of Trujillo

Dozens of young Washington children who are dependent on ventilators could be living at home, but are stuck in expensive hospitals instead.

That's because Medicaid pay for nurses to care for them at home is so low -- about $10 an hour less than the market rate, reporter Levi Pulkkinen told KUOW's Jeannie Yandel on The Record.

A three-year-old Washington state law that allows whistleblowers to bring Medicaid fraud lawsuits is working. That’s according to a review by legislative auditors that urges lawmakers to renew the law before it expires next year.

Meeting a pediatrician in rural Georgia change Dr. Wes Henricksen's career path and led him to a clinic in Longview, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

As a new doctor, Wes Henricksen wanted to help poor communities. But doing that hasn’t been simple. 

Henricksen joined the Child and Adolescent Clinic in Longview, Washington, nine months ago, soon after he completed his residency in Seattle. He had planned to work in global health, but in medical school, he met a pediatrician in rural Georgia who changed his career decision.

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

For the past two years primary care doctors who saw Medicaid patients were given a pay increase. The extra money was an incentive for doctors to take in new patients who became eligible under Medicaid expansion. But starting January 1, 2015, that pay increase expires. Marcie Sillman talks to KUOW’s healthcare reporter Ruby de Luna about how this change might impact Medicaid patients.

Mobile Medical
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

About twice a month, King County’s Mobile Medical van comes to Renton. It opens at 4:30, but it’s often slow until closer to 6:30, when the church across the street begins serving hot meals for homeless people.

The inside of this RV has been retrofitted so there’s an exam room, a nurse’s station and a waiting area.  A generator gives off a droning buzz as it powers this efficient little clinic.

The Challenges Of Medicaid Expansion

Apr 17, 2014
Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

Steve Scher talks with Washington state Medicaid Director MaryAnne Lindeblad about how the state plans to accommodate more than 250,000 newly enrolled residents who qualified for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Flickr Photo/Micheal J (CC BY-NC-ND)

A year after hospitals began discouraging Medicaid patients from making unnecessary emergency room visits, the results are promising. A new state report shows the number of unnecessary visits to ERs in Washington fell by 10 percent last year.  

“A 10 percent reduction is almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, an ER physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma.

Flickr Photo/Kaushik Narasimhan (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Linda Grant, CEO of Evergreen Manor, about potential funding cuts to drug treatment programs for low-income patients in Washington state. Evergreen Manor is a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center in Everett.

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC BY-NC-ND)

Health care enrollments so far have been focused on people without insurance. But there’s another population officials are trying to get covered – people locked up behind bars.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Washington residents who tried to buy health insurance through the health exchange weren’t the only ones to experience technical difficulties.

About 20,000 Medicaid recipients encountered similar problems when they went to the exchange in November, preventing them from renewing their coverage. That’s roughly a third of Medicaid patients for that month.

Washington state has been trying to cut medical costs associated with Medicaid beneficiaries. This month it launched a new program called Health Homes. It’s part of the Affordable Care Act and is designed to help people who are not able to manage their chronic health conditions on their own.

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

A preliminary report from the Washington State Hospital Association shows that emergency room  visits by frequent users fell by 23 percent between June and October of last year.

  Medicaid expansion is one of the key decisions state lawmakers in Olympia face this session. Proponents say it would expand coverage to the uninsured, save the state money and boost the economy. Critics say it’s not clear how much the expansions will eventually cost state taxpayers. Ross Reynolds takes a closer look at Medicaid expansion with University of Washington public health-expert Aaron Katz.

Jay Inslee
Candidate's Facebook page

Democrat Jay Inslee made his first public appearance since he won the election. The Governor-Elect spoke Wednesday at a health care policy conference in SeaTac. He reiterated his commitment to change health care in Washington state through the Affordable Care Act.

Low-income parents will soon have a way to get treatment for their children with autism. Starting in January, Washington state will cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for kids with Medicaid coverage. The new benefit is part of a legal settlement between the state and a local advocacy group for children with autism.