Cantwell to State Leaders: Healthcare is Out of Reach for Too Many Washingtonians

Cantwell, McDermott, State Rep. June Robinson and advocates call for state leaders to adopt proven solution: Basic Health Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), U.S. Representative Jim McDermott (WA-07), State Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) and advocates today called for state leaders to adopt the Basic Health Plan, a health care option that would provide quality, cost-efficient coverage for 162,000 eligible Washingtonians who do not qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford private insurance.

The uninsured rate for this population – who earn between $16,242 and $23,540 – ranges from 13-15 percent, far higher than the state’s overall uninsured rate of 7.3 percent. Today, Cantwell released a report which noted that by adopting the Basic Health Plan, Washington state could provide healthcare for this population that is not only more affordable – saving individuals an average of $1,456 – but is also more efficient, and stable – mitigating the problem of patients moving between Medicaid and the Exchange should their income change.

“Right now there are 162,000 Washingtonians missing out on more affordable health insurance. Under the Basic Health Plan a family could save $240 per month or $2880 annually. So we want to make sure that our residents have the same affordable option as other states like New York and Minnesota,” said Cantwell. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we have achieved tremendous results as it relates to expanding health insurance, but by making more affordable insurance with the Basic Health Plan we can continue to try to drive down rates.”

Earlier today, Cantwell and McDermott sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee, Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, Speaker Frank Chopp, and Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, urging them to make the Basic Health Plan available to Washingtonians.

The Basic Health Plan, which is available to states through the Affordable Care Act, empowers states to use the 95 percent funding from the federal government to negotiate directly with managed care plans to significantly lower healthcare costs for this vulnerable, uninsured population. In 2016, both New York and Minnesota took advantage of the Basic Health Plan and by doing so these states are projecting respective savings of $800 million in FY 2016-2017 and $97.5 in FY 2016.

The Basic Health Plan is modeled on Washington state’s highly successful Basic Health Plan, a state-funded health insurance program that became the first of its kind in the nation when late Governor Booth Gardner signed it into law in 1987. The Basic Health Plan grew from a pilot program serving residents of King and Spokane Counties into a statewide program serving tens of thousands of residents. The plan was suspended in 2014 due to budget constraints.