OLYMPIA— State Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) introduced a measure (HB 2832) to extend access to quality health care services for all Washingtonians.

He said the idea for this legislation came out of a small business roundtable he held before session began.  Small business owners expressed their growing concern over the impacts of health care costs and rising premiums, saying the costs of providing health insurance to their employees have significantly increased, and were their number one concern.  They identified this issue as a top priority for the 2012 session.

This year the Legislature passed the Healthcare Exchange bill (HB 2319), a measure that will help lower costs of coverage.  “But we also need to look at ways to contain costs on the service provider side,” said Hasegawa.

“More than six hundred thousand Washingtonians don’t have health care coverage either because individual plans are unavailable in their area or because they simply can’t afford them,” Hasegawa explained. “What we need is something like ‘VA for All.’ Why not create a system where we could have some access to controlling costs, as well as providing coverage for everybody?”

A previous bill (HB 1096) by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) would have established a universal coverage single-payer system, but Hasegawa pointed out that it would still have the deficiency of not controlling costs on the service provider side.

Hasegawa’s measure, HB 2832, simplifies health care financing and eliminates the administrative waste in our current fragmented system of multiple insurers.  It can create enough savings to extend health care coverage for all and bring fairness to the system.

The key difference between HB 1096 and HB 2832 is Sec. 7(1)(o) which requires the board to:

(o) develop a plan to implement a publicly sponsored integrated delivery system in which residents would receive care from state-employed providers in state-owned and operated facilities or from nonprofit entities contracting with the state.”

Hasegawa’s measure would create the Washington Health Security Trust, a single health financing entity, which, among other things, would:

  • Provide fair, simple, and accountable health care financing for all Washington residents.
  • Create a healthcare service delivery system that provides coverage for everyone as well as controls costs in service delivery.
  • Cover a comprehensive package of quality health care services.
  • Eliminate excessive administrative costs.
  • Protect patient rights and keep clinical decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not administrative personnel.
  • Promote health care quality and control excessive health care costs.

“The escalating burden of paying for health care has been the largest drain on the economic well-being of working families and small businesses for decades.  We need a system that not only provides coverage for everyone, but also controls costs on the service delivery side.  That’s what the “VA for All” model does,” Hasegawa added.

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