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Thousands enrolled for insurance through Washington, Idaho health exchanges

Thousands enrolled for insurance through Washington, Idaho health exchanges

President Obama announced Thursday eight million people have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, while enrollment numbers in Washington and Idaho have been relatively high so far,

According to Washington's insurance commissioner, 146,000 people signed up for private insurance in the first six months. In Idaho, 44,000 people signed up, making the Gem State second in the nation per capita. So why has it been so successful in our two states? Washington and Idaho created their own state-run exchanges, while many states didn't and rely on the federal government.

Washington and Idaho have their own online marketplaces for families to shop for insurance and, despite some challenges like website issues, they've proven to be effective in enrolling people for health care.

Deanna Davis with Better Health Together said sign-up numbers in eastern Washington were higher than expected.

"We did triple enrollments than what we projected to do in our 14 country region," Davis said.

Photoboxx looks to plug into Instagram market

Photoboxx looks to plug into Instagram market

200 million people worldwide have heard of Instagram, the picture sharing social media app that boasts more than 20 billion photos shared using its software. Now a local company called Photoboxx is looking to tap into that global market.

Here's how Photoboxx works: Say you're planning an event, a guest at the event can snap a picture on Instagram using a specific hashtag and then, about a minute later, the picture prints out on a photobox. Your guest gets to keep the print and you have endless possibilities for marketing not only your event, but your brand.

Owners Michael Fisk and Devon Lind spent about a year, and plenty of their own money starting Photoboxx and the concept behind it is pretty simple.

"At an event people are already taking photos. They are taking pictures with their camera but there is no real incentive for them to use that company or the brand for that event's hashtag," Fish said.

Photoboxx gives them an incentive as the people taking pictures get to keep their Polaroid-like print. But the business side of Photoboxx is maybe the best part

SpokeFest has grant available to promote bicycle education

SpokeFest has grant available to promote bicycle education

Bicycle enthusiasts will participate in the 7th annual SpokeFest in September, but the non-profit has more to offer than the one day event. SpokeFest has a grant available for schools or other nonprofits to use for bicycle education.

“We really just want to get the word out that it’s available,” said Anna Bresnahan, Marketing Chair for SpokeFest.

Pot professionals hold seminar for anyone interested in the "Canna-Biz"

Pot professionals hold seminar for anyone interested in the "Canna-Biz"

Legal weed took center stage at the Bing Crosby Theater downtown on Wednesday night. Three experts hosted by The Inlander made the trip to answer questions from the public about the opportunities and hurdles ahead.

Matt Cohen, the pioneer of medical marijuana farms called Washington 'ground zero.' Cohen was a consultant for the state with drafting regulations for Initiative 502.

"I like the law in Washington over any other law in any other state or country so far," Cohen said.

Cohen graced headlines in 2011 when federal agents raided his Northern California medical marijuana grow operation, despite actively working with local and state law enforcement to comply with regulations. His hope is that Washington will be positive role model for other states to follow.

"I think the market is going to have an ability to thrive," Cohen said. "It's going to be regulated very tightly, there's going to be a lot of tax revenue. I think it's going to be a successful program."

Bloomsday entry deadline draws near

Bloomsday entry deadline draws near

In just 20 days racers will cross the starting line for one of the world’s largest road races, but time is running out to enter Bloomsday. Tuesday is the last day to register by mail before facing the late entry fee.

Paper entries must be postmarked by  Tuesday, April 15th. After tomorrow you’ll have until April 20th to register online. You can also register in person at any Sports Authority until 9 pm Tuesday night.

Providence shows off new Medical Park

Providence shows off new Medical Park

Providence is calling their new $44 million facility in Spokane Valley a one stop shop.

The new medical park will meet almost every need of outpatient care, including an in-house pharmacy and coffee shop.

"The vision for this building was that we could provide all services, in one place. So we have family medicine and internal medicine, and if they need to see a specialist, we have specialty care here," said Kathy Tarcon, Chief Operating Officer of Providence Health System.

Providence says the new facility is both convenient and affordable. Visits to urgent care is less costly than emergency room visits, as well as outpatient surgery versus procedures done in the hospital.

"People who live in the Valley don't want to leave the Valley for their care. So that's one reason we decided to build here.50% of the Valley population goes to our hospitals, but we didn't have a large ambulance presence," said Tarcon.

The doors of the new facility will officially open April 28th for urgent care, family medicine and internal medicine. All other specialties should be open by the end of August.

Intermountain search dogs and handlers back from Oso

Intermountain search dogs and handlers back from Oso

Intermountain Search Dogs most frequently work with the Spokane County Sheriff's Department doing search and rescues. However, when the devastation of the mudslide hit, they wanted to help.

"We looked at the pictures and we kind of thought, oh yeah we know what we're going for, and we got there and it was just like, wow," said Phoebe Duke, of Intermountain Search Dogs.

Just five days after the mudslide they packed up and headed to Oso, to help lead the search in recovering victims.

"That search without dogs would have been pretty much impossible," said Duke.

The dogs and their handlers spent long hours working through the thick mud and debris, that in many cases went up to the dog's stomachs. The dogs were successful in recovering bodies, as well as clearing areas so rescue crews could focus on high probability areas. The search was both physically exhausting, and mentally draining.

"You had to compartmentalize it, and do your job and work, and then when you come home, that's when it's hard when the reality hits you, that was someone's child you were looking for, someone's grandmother," said Robyn Moug, of Intermountain Search Dogs.