News

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gov. Jay Inslee says don't let Congress play word games with health care

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 4:42 PM

Gov. Jay Inslee warns that repealing Obamacare without a replacement ready to go would be a disaster for Washington residents. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Gov. Jay Inslee warns that repealing Obamacare without a replacement ready to go would be a disaster for Washington residents.

Yesterday, with the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump looming, Gov. Jay Inslee dropped by a Community Health Association of Spokane clinic to deliver an appeal for Republicans to be cautious in tinkering with the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare, as it's better known. He also urged Washington residents to look very carefully at the words Republicans have been using — like "access to" and "same day" — about their own health care reform proposals.

"I'm here on behalf of 750,000 Washingtonians who have health care for one reason. And that's because we have the Affordable Care Act that protects them and their families," Inslee said. "Protects their life and protects their health. We are determined not to allow the health care to be threatened by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement on the same day."

This week, we have a piece on how social services agencies are worried about the impact of Trump's and the GOP's agenda. In particular, they're worried about proposed changes to Obama's health care reform mandate. Inslee echoed those concerns.

"It is simply not right, it is morally indefensible, to take away a person's health care and not replace it on the same day," Inslee says. "People who have cancer deserve treatment every single day. They should not be put in a place of anxiety and worry to figure out if they have health care."

That's not to say that Inslee couldn't envision ways that the health care system could be better.

"We understand there could be many views on how to improve health care reform as we know it today," he says. "We ought to be open to ideas on how to improve the Affordable Care Act. If these improvements are made, they need to be made on the same day as the repeal to the existing infrastructure."

Still, he says he's worried about the sorts of phrases he's beginning to hear.

"There is language I have heard used from Congress that should cause us great worry. I can hear some members of Congress say, 'Not to worry, we're going to provide people access to care.'"

Paul Ryan recently used the phrase "universal access" when describing the proposed still-theoretical GOP replacement plan.

"That sounds pretty good, right? 'Access,'" Inslee says. "But it doesn't mean health care. It doesn't mean guaranteed health care. It doesn't mean you'll have a way to provide or pay for access to health care. I have access to buy a $10 million house right now. I got access to buy it. But I don't have the $10 million."

Inslee calls these sort of lawyerly word games "sophistry."

"We've got to have the full-meal-deal which is real health care and a real guarantee for people — 750,000 people," Inslee says.

He also identifies another phrase to be skeptical of.

"I've heard people in Congress, say, 'Well, we're not going to cut you off that day,'" Inslee says."That sounds not-too-bad."

It's a phrase U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers used on Twitter last week, writing: "Those who currently receive coverage under Obamacare won’t lose that coverage the day after repeal is signed into law."

But Inslee spots a loophole in that language.

"Look, if they tell you they're going to cut you off a year from now, you're still at great risk," Inslee says. "We know one thing about the U.S. Congress: We shouldn't be confident that it's going to succeed."

Bob Crittenden, Inslee's special assistant for health reform, says that Inslee is currently relying on rhetoric — not any particular legislation or executive action — to try to prevent any reckless repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"He has the bully pulpit and has a lot of influence here," Crittenden says. He says Inslee is hoping that McMorris Rodgers' constituents will flood her with messages to ensure that the health-care law is not repealed without a replacement in place that continues to cover as many people and protect those with preexisting conditions.

In the past Washington state has tried to pull off something a lot like Obamacare, only to have voters revolt against the higher taxes that resulted. Republicans seized control of the government in 1995, hollowed out the mandate that everyone buy health insurance, and watched the system death-spiral into disaster.

Financially, replicating Obamacare in Washington state would be infeasible, Crittenden says.
If Republicans repeal the tax cuts that pay for Obamacare through the budget reconciliation process, Crittenden says, it would mean $6 billion in federal funds lost for Washington each biennium.

To put that in perspective, you know the education funding mandate that the legislature has failed to solve for years? $6 billion is about twice that.

"Going to $6 billion would be impossible," Crittenden says.

But if it's tax money either way, does it matter if the money is coming from the federal government or the state? It does, Crittenden argues. Washington state, unlike the federal government, relies most heavily on the sales tax, which punishes low-income people the hardest.
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Scenes from Trump's inauguration and protests in Washington, D.C.

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 3:57 PM


Surrounded by friends, family and presidents past, Donald J. Trump was sworn in this morning as America's 45th president.

God bless America.

In his speech, Trump vowed to "rebuild" and "restore" the country and to give the power back "to you, the people."

"The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country," Trump said. "Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land."

Trump's speech drew applause from the relatively calm crowd gathered at the U.S. Capitol while police clashed with protesters on the streets of Washington throughout the day.

Two Whitworth University students attended the inauguration and demonstrations today and sent us some pictures and descriptions of what they saw:

Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets — some just blocks from Trump's parade route following his swearing in. They held cardboard signs and paper banners accusing Trump of racism. They also shouted profanity.

HANNAH BREKKE PHOTO
  • Hannah Brekke Photo
Police used pepper spray, tear gas and other nonlethal crowd control techniques to prevent destructive protesters from advancing. Video footage of the demonstrations show people throwing bricks at cars and at the police and lighting trash cans on fire.

HANNAH BREKKE PHOTO
  • Hannah Brekke Photo
HANNAH BREKKE PHOTO
  • Hannah Brekke Photo

HANNAH BREKKE PHOTO
  • Hannah Brekke Photo
Some news organizations are reporting more than 200 people arrested. More protests are planned throughout the country during the next few days — including Spokane's version of the Women's March on Washington.

Josiah Van Wingerden contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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Inauguration, march for women's rights, and morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 9:47 AM

news2-1-2c72fe54998838fe.jpg

ON INLANDER.COM

NEWS:
Today's the big day. We've got all things Donald Trump, including:
IN OTHER NEWS

Stay tuned, world!
The long wait is over — The Donald has officially been upgraded to President Trump. Keep watching for performances from the people, the Inaugural Parade and more. Here's a schedule of events for today and tomorrow. (NYT)

Loud and clear
Tomorrow, activists will turn out in droves to support women's rights at the Women's March on Spokane, a non-partisan, peaceful event. The rally is at 11 am at the Convention Center, leading into the march at 1 p.m.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Spokane Police release the name of officer involved in fatal shooting

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 3:34 PM

SPD Cpl. Ryan Jamieson - SPOKANE POLICE PHOTO
  • Spokane Police photo
  • SPD Cpl. Ryan Jamieson

Spokane Police Cpl. Ryan Jamieson was the officer who fatally shot Dexter Dumarce, according to a news release from the Spokane Police Department.

Jamieson, a nine year veteran of the force, was the only officer to fire his service weapon in the early morning hours of Jan. 15.

Although all the details of the incident have not yet been released, Spokane Police have said Dumarce flashed a knife and led Jamieson and other officers on a foot chase through the lower South Hill.

Multiple officers fired Tasers in an attempt to stop Dumarce, but they were ineffective, police said. Jamieson reportedly fired when Dumarce ran toward a vehicle stopped at a red light, police said.

Dumarce was pronounced dead at the scene after an EMT-certified officer gave medical aid. In a press conference hours after the shooting, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl emphasized that Jamieson stopped Dumarce while patrolling in a "hot spot" — an area where police focus their resources in an attempt to reduce the relatively high level of crime.

At this point, it is not known why, specifically, Jamieson initially stopped Dumarce.

The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team (SIRRT) is investigating the shooting, with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office as the lead agency.

Jamieson was one of the original volunteers for crisis intervention training (CIT) before the de-escalation training became mandatory for all of its members. The mandate was a stipulation of a lawsuit stemming from the officer involved beating death of a mentally disabled janitor, Otto Zehm.

Jamieson is also a verbal defense and influence instructor, according to SPD and is a range safety officer and a defensive tactics instructor. He received the Chief's Citation Award in 2014.
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Costco to pay millions in settlement over prescription drugs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 12:51 PM

tbihlgt1.jpg

The giant warehouse store Costco agreed to pay $11.75 million in a settlement to a lawsuit that accused its pharmacies of improperly filling drug prescriptions and failing to keep adequate records for dispensing prescription drugs, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington Michael C. Ormsby.

Costco also agreed to implement a new pharmacy management system and audit program, the announcement says. Additionally, the DEA can now conduct unannounced and unrestricted inspections of some of Costco's pharmacies without warrants.

Although national in scope, the case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration officials from Seattle, Los Angeles, Sacramento, California and Detroit. U.S. Attorneys from Washington state, California and Detroit worked on the case and negotiated the settlement.

"Opioid misuse has reached epidemic levels in the United States," Ormsby says. "This important matter is yet another example of the tenacious dedication of Drug Enforcement Administration investigators in uncovering and addressing corporate regulatory noncompliance."

Under the settlement reached Jan. 18, Costco recognized that some of its pharmacies filled prescriptions from doctors who did not have authority to issue them and that did not contain all of the required information. It also failed to maintain prescription records for its central fill locations in Sacramento and Everett, Washington.

"In light of the prescription pill and opioid overdose epidemic we are seeing across the country, compliance with regulations governing pharmacies is more important than ever," says Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. "We applaud Costco for working with DEA and taking steps to tighten up its compliance to ensure that prescription pills do not end up on the street market."
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The inauguration is tomorrow, Thunderpussy in jeopardy and student loan provider taken to court

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 9:36 AM


ON INLANDER.COM

NEWS: The Washington state attorney general is suing the nation's largest student loan provider — Navient.

MUSIC: Nixon Rodeo is headlining a free show at the Knitting Factory tomorrow — and they've got a new single and music video. Outgoing music editor Laura Johnson profiles the local four-piece in her last Inlander article for the paper.

GARDENING: Terrariums and other mini gardens are making a comeback.

IN OTHER NEWS:

• Donald Trump's
inauguration is tomorrow. The festivities (if you want to call them that) have already started. Here is a schedule of events. You can watch some of Obama's cool and collected farewell speech here — where the outgoing president says he will continue to speak out if he feels that America's "core values may be at stake." For a peek at how Obama really feels, see below:


• See how well you know what got better or worse during Obama's presidency. (New York Times)

The two deputies shot in Blanchard, Idaho, as well as the man who allegedly shot them, have been identified. Deputies Michael Gagnon and Justin Penn were serving a warrant on Adam Deacon Foster, when they were shot. The two deputies are in the hospital — Gagnon is in serious condition. Penn is in fair condition. Foster was also shot during the altercation, and is in fair condition. (Spokesman-Review)

Dogs in Atlanta killed one child and seriously injured at least one more. The owner of the dogs is now charged with involuntary manslaughter, as the city debates how to handle the specific breed of dog — pitt bull — that is apparently responsible for the death. (Washington Post)

Thunderpussy
  • Thunderpussy
• The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could restrict federal trademarks for potentially offensive or disparaging language. The decision will impact the all-Asian, Portland-based band the Slants, the Seattle band Thunderpussy and the Washington Redskins. (Seattle Times)
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WA attorney general sues nation's largest student loan servicer

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 3:56 PM

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
  • Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit against Navient, the nation's largest student loan servicer, in a case that could impacts thousands of former or current Washington college students.

Ferguson accused Navient, formerly Sallie Mae, of "unfair and deceptive practices" in its student loan business. That includes predatory loans targeting students attending for-profit colleges that have low graduation rates, steering students toward short-term forbearances and engaging in aggressive and misleading collection tactics.

"We are not going to allow private entities to pad their bottom lines on the backs of struggling students," Ferguson said in a press conference today.

The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court and is the culmination of a multi-year investigation by Washington, Illinois and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB filed its own lawsuit against Navient today as well, but Ferguson says his lawsuit is different because it's more focused on Washingtonians and covers Navient's practices prior to 2010, when it was still called Sallie Mae.

Continue reading »

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Obama frees Wikileaker, education nominee hearings get grizzly, ice storm hits Spokane

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 9:59 AM

But do the Berenstain Bears qualify for vouchers?
  • But do the Berenstain Bears qualify for vouchers?

On Inlander.com


Distortion Wave

Social Distortion is coming to Spokane in March.

HERE


Ice to See You
An ice storm causes school delays and closures, and shuts down key roads. (Spokesman-Review)

If only we had the video footage from the secret fire alarm camera

Two different reps say they witnessed Idaho Rep. Heather Scott climb on her desk, pull out her knife, and cut a small black object away from the ceiling after asking if it could be a camera.  (Spokesman-Review)

KXLY interviews the neighbors in the proximity of the two cops shot in Blanchard, Idaho. (Spokesman-Review)

THERE

Free Manning

Obama frees Chelsea Manning, the former soldier who leaked reams of important secret information to WikiLeaks, thus causing partisans who just switched their positions on WikiLeaks to have to switch back. (New York Times)

Bear-ly Educated
Trump Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos discusses the finer points of education policy, like what if some schools need to allow guns to fend off grizzly bear attacks. (Washington Post)

Toldja!
Van Jones, along with having a badass name, tells Conan how he called Trump's win.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump's approval at historic low, two Idaho deputies shot and morning headlines

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 9:20 AM

inl_trumprally050716_mg_0671asm.jpg

ON INLANDER.COM


NEWS: No, Spokane's mumps outbreak is not proof that vaccines don't work.

IN OTHER NEWS

Killing the death penalty
Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and former Attorney General Rob McKenna are asking the state legislature to abolish the death penalty. (Q13)

Bye, Beau
Beau Baldwin, the most successful coach in EWU football history, is taking a job at California as the offensive coordinator. (Spokesman-Review)

Not quite the Ice Storm
A storm is coming that will bring freezing rain, sleet, snow and rain. But today, all you need to worry about is that freezing rain, which will turn into ice once it lands. (KXLY)

Police shooting in Bonner County
Two Bonner County sheriff's deputies were shot Monday as they tried to arrest a man in Blanchard, Idaho. Though each deputy was shot three times, their injuries are not life threatening and they were taken to Kootenai Health for treatment. There, too, is the suspect, who was also shot. (Spokesman-Review)

'Save our health care!'
Cathy McMorris Rodgers gave a speech during the Martin Luther King Jr. Rally at the convention center, but part of that speech was drowned out by people chanting "save our health care!" (KHQ) Today, a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report that says repealing major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as McMorris Rodgers and other Republicans are trying to do, would cost 18 million people their health insurance within the first year.

Rigged!
Donald Trump will enter his presidency with an approval rating of just 40 percent, the lowest of any recent president. But the president-elect doesn't care about polls, and perhaps he shouldn't. He wrote on Twitter: "The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are not doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before."
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Monday, January 16, 2017

No, Spokane's mumps outbreak is not proof that vaccines don't work

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Because a small percentage don't work, but you're still more likely to get mumps without a vaccine
  • Because a small percentage don't work, but you're still more likely to get mumps without a vaccine

Today, the Spokane Regional Health District announced that 44 people in Spokane have mumps, in what SRHD spokeswoman Kim Papich tells the Inlander may be Spokane's worst mumps outbreak in "decades."

The outbreak is becoming a problem that's causing the health district to order students without a mumps vaccination to stay home. And the outbreak is likely to grow — Papich says the health district is investigating about 10 new cases of mumps per day.

But some anti-vaxxers are clinging to the fact that out of the 44 people with mumps, at least 27 actually were vaccinated.

This has thrown comment pages on local news stories into the inevitable chaos expected of every single internet debate about vaccines. You'll find questions like, "If vaccines actually worked, then how come it didn't protect those 27 people from getting mumps?" and "How come there's more vaccinated people with mumps than unvaccinated people with mumps?"

These are questions that can be explained. For starters, nobody is saying that the MMR vaccine works 100 percent of the time. In fact, the vaccine is around 88 percent effective. Still, a person who has received the vaccine is about nine times less likely to get mumps than an unvaccinated person exposed the same virus, according to the health district.

So, how could more vaccinated people have mumps than unvaccinated people? Because, simply, there are more vaccinated people in Spokane than unvaccinated people.

I realize this can be hard to wrap your head around, but stay with me. In evaluating the effectiveness of a vaccine, public health officials assess what they call the virus's "attack rate" among those who are vaccinated and those who are not. That means they evaluate the rate at which each population — vaccinated and unvaccinated — is infected with the virus. The virus infects a higher number of vaccinated people, but at a lower rate, percentage-wise, than unvaccinated people.

Put another way, that means you're still more likely to get mumps if you're unvaccinated.

Consider this example from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Say there are 1,000 people in a community. Most (95 percent) of those people are vaccinated, but 50 are not. The virus attacks only 3 percent of the 950 people who were vaccinated, but 30 percent of the 50 people who are not. In this scenario, 44 people got sick during the outbreak (it's just a coincidence that the CDC used 44 as the total number of infected people). The unvaccinated people were far more likely to be infected by the virus, yet there would be fewer unvaccinated people with the virus (15) than vaccinated people with the disease (29).

This is not a direct comparison to Spokane's latest outbreak and the 44 current cases, in which eight people were unvaccinated. The health district does not know whether or not nine people were vaccinated or not. But the point that health officials have been trying to explain is this: The fact that vaccinated people have the mumps virus should not be interpreted, on its own, as evidence that the vaccine does not work.

Of course, public health officials have been trying to explain this for a while now, and many people remain unconvinced. Let the debate rage on.
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