Washington state Democrats waiting to see what laws Congress passess before back-filling Medicaid

This article was crossposted from the health news policy site, State of Reform.


Washington state GOP leaders have been saying they’ll wait-and-see what Congress passes into law to reform health care, before rushing to judgement. Though state Democrats have offered judgement on policy proposals, they’re in a similar spot when it comes to state actions or reactions to federal policy.

They have to wait to see what turns into law before they plan their budgets accordingly.

Of course, if the GOP does manage to pass elements of the American Health Care Act, or other policy ideas, it could radically reshape how Medicaid is funded and how funds are distributed to the states.

As the U.S. House was delaying a vote on the AHCA, state Democrats were speaking at their weekly press conference Thursday. They said that though they’ve been considering many possible scenarios, they simply couldn’t anticipate what the GOP would do. At the conference, Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, explained why Democrats weren’t planning to build contingencies into their state budget proposal.

“There are too many variables at play. There are members of our caucuses who are watching the situation and engaging staff and thinking about options,” she said. “But there’s no purpose in coming up with contingencies or options until we really see what comes out of D.C.”

State Democrats have widely criticized potential cuts to Medicaid. According to Health Care Authority data, since 2005 the uninsured rate in the state went from about 14 percent to 5.8 percent, while state Medicaid funding remained flat at $4 billion.

“We do not want our citizens to be without health care. We will do everything we can to ensure our citizens have access to affordable health care,” Robinson said. “What that looks like no one knows, because we don’t know what Congress is going to do.”

Though they didn’t have a plan for all scenarios, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, insisted Democrats would work for their constituents’ interests.

“I think Democrats in Washington state are totally committed to protecting our citizens,” he said.

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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