It was a full house on Friday as the House Health Care Committee met for a public hearing on several bills including House Bill 1085 which would establish the Washington State Health Security Health Trust. This would be an alternative to federal health care reform and extend health insurance coverage to all state citizens.
On Tuesday the 35th annual March for Life and Rally was held at the Capitol. The turnout was extraordinary, one of the larger demonstrations in the last few years.
With one of the larger individual health insurance plans already approved for a 23% premium increase in 2013 and the centerpiece of state health care reform, the Health Benefit Exchange, asking for over $50 million per year to operate, questions are being raised. The Exchange Board met on Friday to discuss the concerns and recommend funding options for the Exchange.
Federal health care reform deadlines are fast approaching for Washington State even as the federal government has fallen way behind with promised rules and guidance. Now that the national elections are over, most expect to see the initial batch of federal documents wthin two weeks.
On Monday at a House Ways & Means Committee meeting, the Chair, Rep. Ross Hunter, questioned why the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange was going to cost over $50 million per year, and requested additional documentation. On Wednesday the HBE Operations Committee struggled with a related question, how to raise that kind of money.
The Washington State Health Care Authority was on the road September 18-21 updating citizens on key elements of health care reform. Policy Director Nathan Johnson led an agency team to presentations in Olympia, Seattle, Yakima and Spokane. The presentation was outstanding and the PowerPoint, while very technical, is online.