Doctor agrees to pay $300,000 to settle medical fraud

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A Spokane cardiologist has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging he overbilled Medicaid and Medicare for tests he did not perform on developmentally disabled patients.

Dr. Romeo Pavlic has been practicing in the Spokane area since 1980.

According to court documents, Pavlic would conduct monthly cardiac clinics at Lakeland Village in Medical Lake and would bill for services not provided or tests not conducted.

The Spokesman-Review says he continued the billing practices even after he received a written warning from federal regulators in 2012.

As part of the settlement, Pavlic did not admit wrongdoing.

Lakeland Village serves about 250 patients who have profound mental and physical disabilities.

New children and families state agency bill passes House

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A measure requested by Gov. Jay Inslee to establish a new state agency called the Department of Children, Youth and Families has passed the House.

House Bill 1661 was voted out of the House Wednesday on a bi-partisan 77-19 vote, and now heads to the Senate.

Inslee’s plan, which is included in the 2017-19 state budget, seeks to improve the delivery of services to children and families within juvenile justice programs, foster care services and other child-welfare programs.

Instead of creating new programs, the Governor’s plan is to reorganize existing programs so they could be deployed more efficiently. Under the measure the Department of Early Learning would merge with Child Protective Services. Currently, child protective services are administered by the Department of Social and Health Services.

Supporters said the state needs to improve early learning opportunities and foster care services for children, youth and families. Opponents worried about the cost.

Drama continues over Moses Lake school construction bond

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — Conflict continues following the narrow passage of a Moses Lake School District construction bond last month.

The Moses Lake School Board is deciding whether to rescind a resolution scheduling another vote on the same school construction bond in late April.

The Columbia Basin Herald reports the board approved the new vote when it was unclear whether the school bond would meet the 60 percent threshold to pass.

Some residents are asking a judge for permission to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Feb. 14 election.

On that date, voters in the Moses Lake School District narrowly approved a $135 million school construction bond by just three votes.

Gov. Inslee signs school levy bill sought by districts

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a measure that delays a planned cut in local school levy rates for one year, something school districts have said they need in order to plan their budgets as lawmakers continue to work toward fully funding education in the state.

Surrounded by Democratic lawmakers as he signed the bill Wednesday, Inslee said that now that this temporary measure is off his desk, lawmakers can focus on the task ahead: complying with a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that they must fully fund the state’s basic education system. Lawmakers have already put more than $2 billion toward the issue since the ruling, but the biggest piece remaining of the court order is figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries.

School districts currently pay a big chunk of those salaries with local property-tax levies.

Suburban Seattle jail inmate diagnosed with infectious TB

KENT, Wash. (AP) — Health officials say an inmate at a county jail in Suburban Seattle was diagnosed with infectious tuberculosis and had been in contact with at least 66 other inmates and staff between Nov. 20 and March 1.

KCPQ-TV reports Public Health — Seattle & King County made the announcement Wednesday and said the county is working with jail staff to identify and screen exposed individuals for symptoms.

Officials say the patient in King County Jail in Kent is receiving treatment and is currently not a risk for infecting others. Officials say treatment, which consists of antibiotics, can take from six months to two years.

Health officials say although the disease is passed from person to person through the air, it’s much harder to spread than the cold or flu..

GOP health overhaul puts pressure on state governments

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — The Republican health care plan means less money for states and gives them a tough choice.

They can either find cash to make up the difference or let coverage lapse for millions of lower-income Americans.

Most states have not released estimates of the consequences for them based on the plan proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House and supported by President Donald Trump.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis says it would lead to 24 million Americans being without health insurance over the next decade.

Washington state is one of the few to produce some firm numbers: It would have to come up with $1.5 billion a year starting in 2020 to keep coverage for 600,000 residents who are covered through expanded Medicaid.

Even some Republican governors are calling for a new approach from Congress.

Fiery explosion after Uber vehicle strikes Seattle gas pump

SEATTLE (AP) — A gas pump burst into flames after being struck by a vehicle in Seattle – a fiery explosion that was caught on surveillance video.

KOMO reports the Monday night crash involved an Uber driver carrying a fare. The driver apparently tried to break and lost control. A 40-year-old woman who was the passenger was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the sport utility vehicle was evaluated at the scene for signs of impairment. He was taken to a hospital where a sample of his blood was taken after a warrant was obtained.

Uber spokesperson Tracey Breeden said the man has been removed as a driver for the service and the company is working with Seattle Police.