WSHA continues to have concerns with 2SSB 5377, which aims to make numerous changes to the public option health plans, which are offered on the Washington health benefit exchange. In the original bill, there were numerous issues that were concerning to hospitals. Those included mandating hospital participation in a public option health plan if it also participated in Medicaid, Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB) plans or School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) plans; and reducing the payment rate from 160% to 135% of Medicare in the aggregate.
After opposing the original bill, the reduced payment rate and the market tie was removed. However, there are still issues with the bill that warrant concerns. The most notable is requiring hospitals to contract with any carrier that seeks to offer a public option health plan in a county.
While WSHA supports the goal of this bill – to expand access to affordable health care coverage – it does not support eliminating a hospital’s ability to decide which carriers it can contract with. WSHA will continue to advocate for this as the bill moves through the legislative process.
2SSB 5377 passed the Senate Health & Long Term Care and Ways and Means Committees and is now in Rules. (Ashlen Strong, AshlenS@wsha.org).
For more information on these and a listing of bills we are tracking, see our recent Inside Olympia.