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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

New Washington Law To Require Health Insurance Companies To Report Claims

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Washington Governor Jay Inslee poses for a photo with lawmakers, members of the healthcare community and others after signing into law a requirement that health insurers submit data to an all payer claims database.

By 2018, the state of Washington should have a treasure trove of data on the cost and quality of health care.

Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Thursday a requirement that all health insurers report their claims to a centralized database. Inslee, a Democrat, said the “all payer claims” database will help the state tackle a problem that Obamacare doesn’t get at.

“We’re really making progress on giving people more insurance, now we need to make sure that we get into the machinery of healthcare to improve quality and reduce costs,” the governor said.

One example of how the data might be used is that doctors and hospitals could analyze insurance claims to determine what works best to keep a patient from being readmitted to the hospital.

The state of Washington will contract with a vendor to create the insurance claims database.

Several sections of the new law address who will have access to the data and how to protect patient privacy.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."