Washington one step closer to adopting state level Affordable Care Act protections

OLYMPIA – Washington state residents are one step closer to ensuring Affordable Care Act (ACA) protections remain in place at the state level despite any potential rollbacks of the national health care law at the federal level.

“Now more than ever, with President Trump trying to use the courts to take health insurance away from 20 million Americans, it’s imperative that elected leaders in our state take action to protect access to lifesaving and life-giving health care,” said prime sponsor Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline.

The ACA has been a target by Republican officials in Washington, D.C. SHB 1870, approved by the state Senate on Wednesday, would codify provisions of the ACA so that if the law is overturned by Congress or the courts, they would remain a requirement in the state. It was freshman lawmaker Davis’s first bill to pass both chambers of the Legislature.

“Families across our state rely on these services, and the prospect that their access to health care could disappear tomorrow is terrifying,” said Davis. “Washington can ensure patients can receive health care coverage regardless of a pre-existing condition, that lifetime cap limits remain, and that essential health benefits remain available in health care plans. I am proud to put people first and prioritize health care for all.”

SHB 1870 prohibits health insurers from rejecting applicants based on a pre-existing condition, or rescinding coverage for any reason besides fraud or misrepresentation. It also defines 10 essential health benefits that include, but are not limited to: emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and prescription drugs. The bill also denies health insurers the ability to set annual or lifetime limits on an essential health benefit.

The Senate amended the bill by adding an emergency clause, meaning the bill would take effect immediately following a signature from the governor. The bill will now go back to the House for concurrence on the Senate amendment.