The Daily Troll: Murray has a vision. Ramping up the health exchange. Shutdown hits cancer service.

Now accepting applications for state poet laureate.
Kathleen Flenniken, Washington state poet laureate 2012-2014

Kathleen Flenniken, Washington state poet laureate 2012-2014 KathleenFlenniken.com

That vision thing, Seattle edition

Commentators, including Crosscut's David Brewster, have criticized both Seattle mayoral candidates for failing to paint clear pictures of their vision for the city. Former Mayor Greg Nickels jumped on the no vision bandwagon last night at a Civic Cocktail event (sponsored by CityClub, Seattle Channel and Crosscut). So imagine our surprise when this morning (at 8:41 a.m.) we got an email press release saying:  "Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray will outline his vision for the future of Seattle in a speech to supporters this afternoon at the Columbia City Theater." Guess Murray suddenly had a vision that he should share a vision. And here it is: straight from the visionary's mouth. Crosscut's Eric Scigliano will write about Murray's speech later. — J.C.

Health exchange getting up to speed

Washington's Health Plan Exchange Marketplace was working this morning, when I was able to fully set up an account and begin to apply for an exchange plan. This stands in sharp contrast to the site's first day delays, which may have led to the low number of signups. (Only 6,385 accounts have been created so far).

As is, the site has some, well, issues. Passwords have to include a lowercase letter, a number, an uppercase letter and a special character. That's pretty much industry standard these days, but such complexity argues for writing down your exchange password, which could be dicey given the need to safeguard your personal health information. There's the "Have you used tobacco regularly in the past 6 months?" question which offers only a checkbox to respond. (Presumably, checking the box means "yes.") But, hey, the site is up and running, and once you get past its quirks, we hear there's a $100 per month option — for the invincible 20-something's who qualify. (That $100 figure is from The Olympian, which has a good Q&A with the head of the new Washington Health Benefit Exchange here.) — A.S.

Shutdown hits cancer trials

The federal shutdown has closed a referral service for cancer patients that was operated out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. KIRO Radio host (and well-informed policy wonk) Dave Ross reports on MyNorthwest that the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service helps patients or their families locate new research studies or other alternative treatments to the standard care they are receiving. An official told Ross that the service normally gets 10,000-plus calls, emails or visits per month — many inquiries come from people without health insurance. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about the House of Representatives shutting down the government to save people from the Affordable Care Act, right? — J.C.

Sharing the shutdown pain with lobbyists?

Shutdown Day 3: Thousands of federal workers furloughed, medical research derailed, the National Zoo's panda cam off. Lobbying, however, is still going strong in D.C. One lobbyist quoted in a Politico yesterday described avoiding long security lines outside a Congressional office building by calling a staffer and asking for a ride into the parking garage, where the wait was shorter. He is a lobbyist after all.

But today Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., circulated a letter that calls for a ban on lobbyists at House office buildings while the government is closed. The Hill reported that the American League of Lobbyists immediately bashed Cicilline’s proposal, calling it unconstitutional. “We urge him to remember that all citizens, including lobbyists, have a First Amendment right to redress their grievances,” the group’s letter said. “The shutdown is an inconvenience for every citizen, lobbyists included.” And so it goes in the other Washington. — B.L.

Guilty pleas in drunk-driving deaths 

Repeat DUI offender Mark Mullan this morning pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and assault in the March accident where four members of a family were run down near Einstein Middle School in north Seattle. Seattlepi.com reports that Mullan will likely face an 18-year prison term when he's sentenced next month. The accident killed Judy and Dennis Schulte and injured their daughter-in-law Karina Ulriksen-Schulte and grandson Elias, who was 10 days old at the time. Dan Schulte, who lost his parents, said his wife is close to coming home after rehabilitation for an injury-related stroke. Elias, who suffered head injuries, has vision issues and faces more surgery. Even so, Dan Schulte says his baby son "makes this easier." — J.C.


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