health reform

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Small businesses in Washington state will not be able to participate in the new health care law, because not enough insurance companies were willing to sell them coverage. 

The biggest part of Pres. Barack Obama’s new health care law is aimed at people with no health insurance. Starting this fall, they’ll be able to buy individual health policies from an online system where they can compare prices. It's also where you can get subsidies for insurance. In Washington state, it's called Washington HealthPlan Finder.

If you work for a business with fewer than 50 employees, the law says your employer has the option of getting insurance for low and middle-income workers—with subsidies. That won’t happen in Washington, at least not on time.

Far from the campaign trail, President Obama’s health-care law is chugging toward implementation in Washington state. A new agency is emerging, with a new name – and some questions about how to fund it.

Health-care providers in Washington are in the midst of changes that will speed up now that the federal health law has been sustained. The ruling was welcome news to hospitals, doctors and many others in the medical field.

They're especially glad nearly everyone will have health insurance. That’s been one of the big challenges in the current health system. People get sick and go to the hospital, even if they can’t afford it.

By 2014, when subsidies for insurance kick-in, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler predicts about 80% of the uninsured will get coverage.  

A controversial former Obama health-care administrator was in Seattle this week, speaking to 1,000 people about what can be learned from medical mistakes--saying patient safety should be an ethical imperative .

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was in Seattle this week, to hear about local efforts to make the medical system more efficient.

Sebelius is in charge of implementing the new national health care law – and defending it. The Affordable Care Act has been under fierce attack by Republicans and their allies. Democrats and their supporters recently hired political strategists to launch a campaign in defense of the law.

At the same time, Sebelius has been trying to sell it across the country, alongside sympathetic mayors and governors.