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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Washington State Joins the Access Expansion Wave

Washington State Joins the Access Expansion Wave

February 9, 2007

State of Washington was an access innovator in the early 1990s with the creation of the Washington Basic Health Plan, which is many ways is an early model for Commonwealth Care. Washington has an innovative governor and some really savvy legislators. Take a look at one of the their key objectives, mentioned at the bottom of the clip -- "prevent health care spending from increasing faster than personal income growth" -- now there's an ambitious objective. Wonder how they plan to pull this off?

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) and state Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday announced a proposal that aims to offer universal health coverage to all state residents within five years. Nearly 600,000 Washington residents are uninsured, including 73,000 children. The plan would cost an estimated $142 million over the next two years. Under the proposal, called the Healthy Washington Initiative, all Washington children would have health coverage by 2010 through private or public health plans. Unmarried adults ages 19 to 25 would be eligible to remain on their parent's health insurance and their employers would be able to contribute to the cost of coverage, according to the plan.

In addition, the state would "design a way for public and private markets to combine purchasing power" with the intent of negotiating lower-cost premiums and the state would expand its subsidized health insurance program for low-income working adults. Under the plan, health insurance would be portable, emergency department care increasingly would be diverted to local clinics and more focus would be placed on technology. In addition, the state insurance commissioner would examine ways to reduce administrative costs. The program aims to make Washington one of the Top 10 healthiest states and to prevent health care spending from increasing faster than personal income growth. State Sen. Karen Keiser (D) and state Rep. Eileen Cody (D) said that the state Legislature would consider the governor's omnibus bill on Monday and added that related legislation already is being considered