Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Moving forward on health care reform

It's full steam ahead for Washington state's health exchange after the federal government gave the Washington Healthplanfinder an O.K. earlier this week.

In order for the exchange to be up and running by 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services give conditional approval before January 1, 2013.

Our state is one of only six states to meet this deadline.

House Democrats didn't wait around for the Supreme Court to make their ruling on Obamacare. Last session, we passed legislation to ensure that we'd be ready to make health care more accessible, portable, and affordable once the ACA coverage provisions are implemented.

Our early action has paid off to the tune of more than $150 million in federal funding.

The Washington Healthplanfinder and other reforms are aimed at the largest remaining groups of people without health coverage: young adults, college students, workers at small businesses, the self-employed, and people who can't afford to buy health coverage on the individual market.

The program is designed to make it easier to compare health plans and get a better price for the coverage you want. This effort has been led by House Healthcare and Wellness Committee Chair, Rep. Eileen Cody.

A registered nurse, Rep. Cody said that, "Health coverage is one of the basics. Your family needs a home, food on the table, clothes, health care – it's just fundamental, and our goal with this legislation was to make it easier for every family, rich or poor, to get affordable health care for their loved ones."

Washingtonians with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level may qualify for premium financial assistance. Current estimates say that more than 200,000 uninsured residents will now be able to receive benefits.

For more information, visit the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website.

Read this story in Spanish here.