Washington governor pushes public option legislation

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Tuesday said Democratic lawmakers will be introducing legislation to offer residents of the state a public health insurance option, which would be a step toward single-payer health care.

Inslee, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, said the bill will direct the state’s Health Care Authority to contract with health plans across the state to offer coverage on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which guarantees coverage to anyone in the individual insurance market across the state.

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Reimbursement rates would be consistent with Medicare rates, Inslee said.

“Under the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act, Washington was able to make tremendous progress in expanding coverage and start bringing down costs in our health care system. Under the Trump administration, all that progress is at risk,” Inslee said in a statement.

The Washington state legislature is controlled by Democrats, who will likely pass the measure.

Inslee’s move is the latest effort from a Democratic governor to challenge the Trump administration on health care.

It comes just a day after newly-elected California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom applied for a waiver from the Trump administration to create a single-payer system, and proposed reinstating ObamaCare individual mandate in the state.

More than 800,000 Washingtonians gained coverage under ObamaCare, but Inslee said the Trump administration “has actively undermined the program and removed key mechanisms that helped expand access and keep costs down.”

Inslee said despite the Trump administration’s efforts, the state’s insurance market is stable enough to support a public option.

Inslee and state Democrats didn’t immediately reveal cost estimates for the proposal.