Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Every legislative session is different and has dominant issues emerge. This year, the operating budget was the primary issue throughout the legislative sessions. Once it passed, attention quickly turned to the transportation tax-increase package. This debate will continue until state lawmakers reconvene in Olympia next January.
In 2010, health care was a dominant issue – especially at the national level and in Congress. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, states, businesses and individuals are trying to figure out how to comply with the law and determine what impact it will have on them. With the size and complexity of the law, the transition has not been smooth. For example, last month the Obama Administration announced a delay in the employer mandate. This is the mandate that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage to their employees, or pay a fine if one or more of their employees receives a tax credit through the exchange.
One of the important decisions for states when it comes to Obamacare is whether or not to establish a state health benefit exchange. An exchange is a state-based health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The intent of exchanges is to make health insurance more affordable and accessible, but time will tell if both goals are met. Our state opted for an exchange and we are currently in the process of implementing it. This process must be completed by 2014. An Associated Press article from today highlights the plans and rates in our state's exchange. You can read it here.
Below are some pieces of health-care related legislation that passed this year. I voted for each bill.
- House Bill 1216 concerns the treatment of eosinophilia gastrointestinal associated disorders.
- House Bill 1471 updates and aligns with federal requirements hospital health-care associated infection rate reporting.
- House Bill 1480 allows a direct practice to pay for charges associated with the dispensing of an initial supply of generic prescription drugs prescribed by the direct provider – at no additional cost to the direct patient.
- Senate Bill 5148 allows for the redistribution of medications under certain conditions.
- Senate Bill 5216 changes the claim-denial requirements for long-term care insurance policies sold after January 2009.
Here are some health care links you might find interesting or useful:
- Washington Health Benefit Exchange (healthplanfinder): http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org
- Search insurance rates: http://www.insurance.wa.gov/health-rates/Search.aspx
- House Health Care and Wellness Committee: http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/committees/HCW
- Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner: http://www.oic.wa.gov
In your service,