Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘State Governments’ Category

DSHS Must Pay Back $8.4 Million For Medicaid Claims

by Matt Rosenberg March 31st, 2011

SUMMARY: In response to a recently issued federal audit, Washington state’s Department of Social and Health Services will pay Medicaid back $8.4 million for improper reimbursement it claimed and received for family planning services and products. The mistakes occurred because work related to patient conditions such as lumbago, diabetes, hypertension – and for child care – was incorrectly classified as eligible for the 90 percent family planning reimbursement rate, rather than the 50 percent rate that actually applied. The federal audit suggests that similar overpayments likely also occurred before the period examined, and that DSHS should work with Medicaid to develop a best estimate of additional paybacks, even though the state says its new Medicaid Management Information System can’t examine those older claims.

UW Report: Teacher Bonus Plan Not Helping Needy Kids

by Matt Rosenberg March 30th, 2011

SUMMARY: Washington state legislation providing annual bonuses for each K-12 public school teacher that becomes nationally board certified, plus another annual bonus for each year they teach in “challenging” schools is increasing the number of those teachers but not having much success in shifting them to challenging schools. This is according to an analysis published last week by the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. Costs for the program have grown to $35 million per year and are projected to rise markedly in the next two years. The legislature is wrestling with a budget proposal from Governor Chris Gregoire to cut the bonus program.

State: Tukwila Bar Owes $200,000 In Local Gambling Taxes

by Matt Rosenberg March 23rd, 2011

SUMMARY: The White Horse Bar and Grill in Tukwila, Wash. is facing possible suspension or revocation of its two state gambling licenses. The state charges that the establishment has failed to pay more than $200,000 to the City of Tukwila in local gambling taxes, after disregarding a plan negotiated early last year to pay the debt. A hearing has been scheduled before an administrative law judge.

Unapproved Rate Hike Earns $50K State Fine For Insurer

by Matt Rosenberg March 16th, 2011

SUMMARY: Washington’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner has fined a Philadelphia insurance company $50,000 for enacting unauthorized annual rate hikes of up to 12 percent in student accident and sickness plans and failing to include policy numbers on marketing brochures used by student and parent customers. The company, ACE American Insurance, has agreed to the fine in a consent order and also has returned to enrollees almost $200,000 in increased premiums, plus five percent annual interest for three years. As a condition of the consent order, if the company breaks any Washington laws in the next two years it will have to pay an additional (currently-suspended) fine of $50,000. Another factor in the disciplinary action, according to OIC’s staff atorney, is the company’s “checkered past” in Washington. Ace American has previously paid two five-figure fines to the state for other consumer violations and a series of smaller fines for failing to file required financial data.

CBO Director Stresses Rising Public Debt, Taxes, Spending

by Matt Rosenberg March 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a public presentation and official blog post last week, U.S. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf warned of rising U.S. public debt. It hit $9 trillion or 62 percent of Gross Domestic Product at year-end 2010, and is projected by the CBO to rise to at least 77 percent of GDP by 2021, or nearly 100 percent if certain current tax breaks are extended, raising the risk of a national fiscal crisis. Elmendorf stated that the growing public debt, driven by deficit spending, necessitates hard decisions by Congress about federal budget and tax policies – in order to reverse course and stimulate income growth and investment while maximizing the benefits of federal spending. He stressed that eliminating waste and inefficiency will not be enough to get the nation’s fiscal house in order and accented the recommendations of the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, that Congress should cut spending on federal health care programs, defense, agriculture, and military and civil service retirement, while also ending selected federal tax breaks. He recommends Congress aim to settle on the needed fiscal reforms in the near-term – even if they are implemented more gradually – in order to help stabilize the economy.

Supreme Court Affirms Kitsap Child Rape Conviction, Overturning Appeals Court Reversal

by Matt Rosenberg February 25th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Washington State Supreme Court has reversed a state appeals court which last year threw out a conviction against Arthur C. Russell, convicted in trial court in August, 2008 for first degree rape of a child, a stepdaughter, when the family lived in Bremerton and he worked for The U.S. Navy. The appeals court had held that the conviction was invalid because the jury was not given “limiting instructions” on how it could and could not consider evidence of other alleged acts of sexual abuse by Russell against the stepdaughter in locations outside Washington state including Hawaii, Florida and Indiana. Such evidence is allowed to establish motive and intent, but not character. The Supreme Court overruled the appeals court and affirmed the trial court’s conviction and sentence, stating that because there was no request for “limiting instructions” on the additional evidence, none were required to be given by the trial court.