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caption: Jay Inslee poses for a portrait on Thursday, January 11, 2018, in Seattle.
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Jay Inslee poses for a portrait on Thursday, January 11, 2018, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Gov. Jay Inslee pushes for 'public option' health plan in Washington state

If he runs for president, Governor Jay Inslee will not be taking donations from the fossil fuel industry. Is that relevant yet? Only time will tell.

Inslee spoke with Bill Radke about issues closer to home, including his newly announced healthcare policy and his plans for fighting climate change in Washington state.

Gov. Inslee on The Record Jan. 8

Jay Inslee talks about climate change, healthcare, and orcas.

Interview highlights

The “public option” healthcare plan at a glance

The state would contract with an insurance carrier to offer a health plan that would be available across the state.

“We still have a residual percentage of people that do not have health insurance, have not been able to access it,” Inslee said. “We still have about 14 counties that could be on the cusp of not having an insurance carrier available for them.”

The plan would have uniform policies across no matter where a person lives and the state would regulate its rates.

“We had concerns that if we did this earlier it might destabilize the private market, but we believe the private market is stable enough now to allow this assurance for people,” Inslee said.

“It will help not just on access but also on the cost side of this, because we do have to find a way to reduce costs over the long term in our healthcare system if we're going to ever really to achieve real universality of coverage.”

In particular, the plan targets people in the 14 counties that may not have an insurance carrier through the market and those who are in a gray area of financial eligibility.

“Folks in the kind of upper income part of the eligible side are not getting into the pool as much as we'd like them to be. They make a little too much for the subsidies.”

The financial impacts of the state plan:

“We have to find a way to reduce the rate of medical inflation. We have had some success in our Medicaid program — we've restrained medical inflation to under 2 percent, which is leading the nation actually by providing integrated mental and physical health, by providing preventative health.”

Bouncing back after the defeat of the carbon tax initiative

“The majority did not vote on the carbon tax this year. But people need to know that is just one tool in the toolbox.

“We are proposing a suite of efforts this year, policies that will be 100 percent clean — electrical grid policies that will demand and require cleaner transportation fuels, because we know we have to decarbonize our transportation system. That's the big bugaboo in the state of Washington.

“Policies that will incentivize and allow people to get more electric cars and solar panels.

“Policies to eliminate what we call super pollutants, hydrofluorocarbons.

“These policies that I have proposed, and I think they have a reasonable chance of getting through the legislature this year, would provide roughly comparable carbon savings as the initiative that did not pass.”

Creating so-called green jobs

“We’re going to build jobs by the bucketful. In fact we’re doing that today — making carbon fiber for electric cars in Moses Lake, we’re making biofuels in Grays Harbor — this is a jobs opportunity that is exactly what we do well in the state of Washington.

“I believe it’s in our state character, and I believe it’s in our national character, to innovate and to lead. We invent, we create, and we build. “There’s no greater opportunity to fulfill that state and national character than to embrace these clean energy policies. “

A presidential run in the future?

“I am considering this,” Inslee said. “I think it's important to have a candidate who will have a robust commitment to deal with climate change — and I think that needs to be on the front burner rather than the back burner.”

Produced for the web by Brie Ripley and Kara McDermott.