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Gov. Inslee introduces national health care plan

Governor Jay Inslee released his health care plan for Americans last week, as part of his 2020 presidential candidacy. Key elements of the plan are based on Washington State’s recently-enacted public option, Cascade Care; offering a public health option to all state residents, regardless of income by 2021. The health care proposals are a part of a larger plan entitled, Putting Families First, which includes policies on education, workforce, economic security, and other social determinants of health.

Gov. Inslee’s plan aims to reduce the percentage of uninsured Americans by 60% within two years, immediately take action to lower prescription drug prices, and achieve universal health care coverage within the first five years of his presidency.

His plan would expand Medicare and Medicaid by allowing anyone the option to buy into the public market, increase subsidies for Exchange enrollees between 200-600% of FPL, and increase the federal poverty level for Medicaid expansion from 138% to 200%. Other features include developing an auto-enrollment program for Medicare for newborns and individuals reaching Medicare-age, and lowering Medicare enrollment eligibility to age 50.

Drug price control efforts include measures to allow Medicare to negotiate prices and support drug reimportation. The plan would also expand federal regulations that require drug companies provide justification for price hikes over 10%, to help protect consumers.

The plan looks to restore protections for those with pre-existing conditions and access to essential health care services — protections that were limited under current administrative policies. This policy also requires free contraceptive care for women, and provides coverage for reproductive services.

Improvements to workforce capacity and integrated care coordination are addressed in the plan through public and private incentivizing for innovation and quality care. The proposal to raise health care workers’ wages and expand training and development is intended to increase workforce capacity and patient access to providers in long-term care, primary care, community-based care and mental health.

The plan also includes funding initiatives to improve the social determinants of health such as housing, nutrition, and economic security.

“[B]ecause healthcare begins not at the hospital or at the clinic but with health promotion and disease prevention, Governor Inslee will invest in prevention and supports for mental health, food stability, substance abuse and addiction treatment, home care, and affordable housing that are essential to healthy families and children,” reads the proposed plan.

By expanding the authorization of Medicaid to provide supportive services, the Putting Families First plan seeks to increase the availability of housing vouchers for low-income persons, improve “wrap-around” services for those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse, expand the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), and provide additional supports to at-risk youth.

In addition to the health policies introduced in the plan, Inslee’s Putting Families First plan proposes a comprehensive National Paid Family and Medical Leave program. This proposal is based on the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave that the governor signed into law in 2017.

The National Paid Family and Medical Leave for America proposal will provide up to 12 weeks paid family or medical leave per year for eligible employees who have worked a predetermined number of hours and have a qualifying event (ex: child birth, care for a sick family member). This program will be funded by a 0.4% payroll tax.

According to the plan, “National Paid Family and Medical Leave will benefit every member of every family. It will allow both mothers and fathers to be able to stay home with new infants and children to provide needed nurture and support; allow employees to stay home when sick or caring for a sick family member; and honor their obligations to their country when called to service.”

This article was cross-posted at our sister site, State of Reform