I am encouraged by the bipartisan process beginning today in the United States Senate to help stabilize health insurance markets across the country. I especially appreciate the leadership of Senator Patty Murray, who is co-leading this effort, and of Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who has been a stalwart advocate for Washington consumers and will testify today on our state’s success implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Millions of Americans are desperate for reassurance that Congress can and will work together to protect their health care. While Congress has a big to-do list this fall, I encourage it to act in a bipartisan way to help maintain stability and affordability in health insurance markets.
There’s a reason Senator Murray and Commissioner Kreidler are being called upon as leaders in this effort. Washington’s successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act – including Medicaid expansion and creation of the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange – has provided enormous benefits for our people, our economy and our state budget. We stand ready to share those successes with our fellow states, and to work in good-faith with federal lawmakers from both parties toward bipartisan solutions to improve our nation’s health care system.
Separately, but just as importantly, I implore Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program before the program expires September 30. This program provides coverage for more than 50,000 Washington children.
Beginning today, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold four hearings over the next two weeks titled “Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual insurance Market for 2018.” Kreidler is testifying in a hearing today at 10:00am ET as one of five state insurance commissioners. A bipartisan panel of five governors will testify in a second hearing tomorrow.
Throughout 2017 Inslee and Kreidler weighed in on numerous bills introduced in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act including the last version that failed in the Senate in early August. Inslee and Kreidler also participated in the development of the Shared Priorities from the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network convened by the National Governors’ Association to provide bipartisan recommendations to improve the nation’s health care system.
Additionally, earlier this year Inslee wrote to the Washington delegation urging it to support swift action to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as renewal of the Maternal, Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, the Community Health Center Fund and teaching health centers. The Washington Health Care Authority reiterated the governor’s message in a second letter sent this summer, and also recently issued a one-page fact sheet highlighting the importance of renewing the CHIP. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on CHIP reauthorization this week.