Democrat Jay Inslee made his first public appearance since he won the election. The Governor-Elect spoke Wednesday at a health care policy conference in SeaTac. He reiterated his commitment to change health care in Washington state through the Affordable Care Act.
Inslee appeared at a gathering of health care providers, insurance companies and policy analysts. He did not announce any major plans, but he made it clear he wants the state to stay on track when implementing the Affordable Care Act. He says it’s an exciting time to be governor on this issue.
"Governors in the next several years are going to succeed or fail, largely dependent on their ability to be successful in advancing health care reform," Inslee told the group. "These budgets are going to be extreme pressure and their ability to solve this mystery of health care reform in a way that’s cost effective and improves health is absolutely pivotal to the success of any governor in any state. So this is absolutely one of the top things in my agenda to work with you to figure out how we do this.”
Inslee says he looks forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come up with solutions to bring down health care costs. One of his priorities is to expand Medicaid in Washington. He says that would provide coverage to people who currently have no health insurance. He estimates this would save the state $100 million in the first four years. Inslee says those savings would help the state pay for other priorities such as education.
Inslee’s assessment of Medicaid expansion is in line with what some policy experts were saying at the conference. It's unclear how new leaders in the state Legislature will respond to Inslee's assessment. The session begins next week and budget issues will be front and center. One question likely to come up is the long term cost of Medicaid expansion.