Republican health care bill problematic, says Washington's insurance chief | KUOW News and Information

Republican health care bill problematic, says Washington's insurance chief

Jun 22, 2017

Problematic.

That's how Washington's Insurance Commissioner describes the federal health care bill proposed by Republican Senators.

The health care reform bill revealed by Senate Republicans would limit Medicaid spending. It would also slash funding that states use to operate their insurance marketplaces. Commissioner Mike Kreidler estimates that with those changes, 700,000 people in Washington would lose health coverage.

Kreidler says there are changes in the Senate version, compared to the earlier House version. Cuts that would lead people to lose their coverage would be delayed for several years — until after the mid-term elections.

Kreidler says under the newest Republican proposal, people would have to pay more out of pocket than they do under Obamacare.

Kreidler: "One of the changes that you'll see here is that you could see people being pushed into very high deductible plans, $6,000 per individual, or maybe $12,000 deductible for a family, with very little in the way of subsidies being available to them."

Kreidler says the state will keep its insurance marketplace open as long as possible, but eventually many people would lose coverage.

Kreidler: "How long, for example, can the state maintain the expansion of the Medicaid program, and all of the people that receive mental health coverage now that they didn't before — all of that's going to be very much in doubt as to whether we can keep that in place."

Kreidler says if the bill is passed, Washington state would likely apply for a federal waiver to keep parts of the Affordable Care Act in place.

Washington's Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers are supporting the legislation. They note that insurance premiums in Washington state are expected to rise next year, as high as 38 percent for some plans. They say that's one reason the Affordable Care Act needs to be replaced.