Writings and observations

Inslee
Jay Inslee

There’s been a wide presumption that Representative Jay Inslee, of the Washington 1st district based around Snohomish County, is aiming at a run for governor 2012 – the job that eluded him in 1996 run (when he lost in the Democratic primary to the King County executive, Gary Locke). The indicators have been growing.

The latest, just pointed out in the Everett Herald, is his upcoming fundraiser, invitations for which pointedly said this: “We know it’s early in the cycle, but the Congressman is trying to put some funds in the bank early for his Congressional race and also if there is an opening to run for Governor.”

Presumably, there will be, unless incumbent Democrat Chris Gregoire surprises a lot of people and runs for a third term.

Inslee isn’t the only Democrat who’s made noises about such a run. Senate Majority Lisa Brown of Spokane has been reported as interested, and so have others. But Inslee could be the major entrant on the Democratic side.

A contest against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who’s widely presumed to go for it in ’12 (and has to be considered the Republican heavyweight if he enters), could be a battle to behold.

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Washington

As the effort to run the health care nullification bill ramps up again in the Idaho House, amid cries of how the 2010 law is imposing tyranny on the country, maybe a look – one year hence – at some of the actual impact is in order.

Here’s a White House summary of the effects on Idaho, specifically. One point not mentioned, to be sure, is the provision on buying insurance – not a mandate, by the way (one of the many routine misstatements about the law) but rather a relatively modest tax incentive to be insured.

Don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time finding tyranny in a health law that doesn’t take over health care or insurance, only extends some regulations in a badly broken system. (Before you take any issue with that, you might read one of the latest slices of evidence of that in Steve Duin’s column today in the Oregonian, about how wonderful private health insurers can be, and how effective we’ve been at reining in their many abuses.)

Here’s the “tyranny” the health law has imposed on Idaho:

Reducing costs for seniors and strengthening Medicare. More than 16,265 Idaho residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. And nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 211,000 in Idaho, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit from their doctor

Offering new coverage options. Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 5,800 young adults in Idaho could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 99,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Idaho will be protected because of this provision.

Lowering costs for small businesses. The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 28,219 in Idaho to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and make premiums more affordable.

Improving the quality of coverage. All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 934,000 Idaho residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.

Providing flexibility and resources to States. The Affordable Care Act also gives States the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. Under the law, States have received millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Idaho has received $27.9 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Idaho include: $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange; $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases; $15 million to support capital development in community health centers; $3.6 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund; $100,468 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers; $784,503 for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting; $6.5 million for the Money Follows the Person demonstration project.

Note: The White House release typo referred to “934,000 million Idaho residents” corrected here.

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