July 27, 2017
“Today the United States Senate will vote on legislation that would revive the same disastrous health care reform experiment that failed in Washington state 20 years ago.
“In the 1990s state lawmakers repealed key policies that underpinned the state’s health insurance market, like a mandate to buy health insurance. Insurance providers increased premiums as the pool of people purchasing insurance were more likely to have costly health conditions, and insurers eventually fled the market altogether.
“By 1999, you could not buy an individual health plan in Washington state.
“The Senate proposal is nothing but a patchwork of failed or untenable policies that will harm Washington state’s health insurance system, cost tens of thousands of Washingtonians their health coverage and increase costs.
“In the strongest terms, we urge the United States Senate and the whole of Congress to reject this legislation and to work directly with states on bipartisan solutions for stabilizing our health insurance markets.”
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this legislation – the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – would result in 16 million Americans losing their health coverage, and millions more being forced to pay insurance premiums that are on average 20 percent higher than they are today. It would also block federal investments in certain state programs and Planned Parenthood, a medical provider that offers cancer screenings and family planning services for tens of thousands of Washington families.
Market stabilization is a key priority. Health insurers in Washington state have told the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and state leaders that the continued uncertainty surrounding federal health care law changes – in Congress, and in the Trump Administration’s intentional lack of commitment to cost-sharing reduction (CSRs) payments – are already causing significant disruptions and cost increases for our residents. Passage of the skinny repeal would add yet another layer of uncertainty at a time when Washington state is working hard to keep health insurers in the individual market.
Washington state helped develop the Shared Priorities from the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network, convened by the National Governors Association. Market stabilization and full funding for CSRs are among the top priorities shared by the bipartisan group of governors who developed the document.