Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle reached the Yukon River checkpoint of Galena Friday morning. (Photo by Zach Hughes/KSKA)Iditarod veteran Aliy Zirkle was the second musher out of Ruby early this morning, but she overtook Brent Sass a short ways down the trail.Both are on the move toward Galena – a 50-mile run down the Yukon River – with 15 dogs in harness.Jeff King was the first musher to reach Ruby, but is in the midst of his mandatory 24-hour layover.A handful of other mushers – led by Dallas Seavey, Nicolas Petit and Wade Marrs – also reached Ruby early Friday morning, but remain in the checkpoint as of 8:00 a.m.Illinois musher and Iditarod veteran Charley Benja scratched yesterday in McGrath.He made the call at 11:50 a.m. due to concern for his race team. He had 11 dogs on his team when he made the decision.
The board directing the troubled Oregon health exchange is meeting this week to begin making recommendations about next steps and the future. In addition, Washington’s health benefit exchange faces challenges of its own. The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Board Starts Mulling Its Future Makeup And DirectionBattered by controversy, its vision in doubt, the board of Cover Oregon will meet today and tomorrow to start planning its future. The board will report to the Legislature in September on whether the bureaucracy set up to operate Oregon’s health insurance exchange should remain a stand-alone public corporation or other agency, and if so how board members should govern it. Originally board members had contemplated a two-day retreat to tackle these questions. But now the event is structured as a series of meetings. The planning sessions that start tonight can’t be live-streamed as typical board meetings are, though the public can dial in on a conference call (Budnick, 7/21). The Oregonian: Former Top Cover Oregon Official Won $67,000 Settlement After Threatening LawsuitGov. John Kitzhaber has defended his handling of the Cover Oregon debacle by noting that he engaged in “cleaning our own house,” including holding three officials “accountable” after the health insurance exchange website did not work. But newly released records reveal that one of those three, Triz delaRosa of Cover Oregon, didn’t go quietly. After Kitzhaber called for delaRosa, the exchange’s chief operating officer, to be fired on March 20, she warned the state she’d sue if she was fired, according to documents obtained under Oregon’s public records law. She laid blame for the exchange fiasco on Oregon Health Authority mismanagement, as well as Kitzhaber’s staff, for failing to confront problems Cover Oregon reported after taking over the project in May 2013 (Budnick, 7/21). Seattle Times: Washington Health Exchange Sounds The Alarm, Questions DeloitteOne message came through loud and clear at today’s meeting of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Operations Committee: It may not be time to panic about the health exchange’s problem-riddled invoicing and payments system, but it is time to sound the alarm and get all hands on deck. “We are really out of rope on this one,” Chief of Staff Pam MacEwan told the committee. “We need this to be fixed a while ago. We don’t have the patience of the public or the carriers on this anymore” (Marshall, 7/21).Meanwhile, on the Medicaid expansion front – Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Arkansas Weighs Plan To Make Some Medicaid Enrollees Fund Savings AccountsIf all goes according to plan, next year many Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries will be required to make monthly contributions to so-called Health Independence Accounts. Those that don’t may have to pay more of the cost of their medical services, and in some cases may be refused services (Andrews, 7/22). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Despite Controversies And Doubts, Cover Oregon Board Meeting To Plan For The Future