Thursday, June 28, 2012

What was at stake in the ruling for Washington state

Earlier this month, we put out a report detailing what was at stake for Washington state -- down to the county level -- if the Affordable Care Act was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

The upshot was that more than 800,000 Washingtonians stand to get coverage through the Medicaid expansion OR to get subsidies to help them and their families pay for private insurance.

In addition, the report details the reforms, most of them largely unnoticed by the average person, that have already taken effect. Among these: Young adults can now stay on their parents' health coverage up to age 26, kids can't be denied insurance because they're sick, small businesses get tax rebates if they provide health coverage for workers, no caps on lifetime benefits, etc.

The most significant reforms will take place in 2014, including the state's new health care exchange, an online marketplace to shop for and compare insurance -- as well as a way for lower- and middle-income families to get substantial help paying for it.

The full report is at http://www.insurance.wa.gov/legislative/reports/Whats-at-stake.pdf.

Kreidler reaction to Supreme Court upholding health care reform law

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler expressed great relief with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and said Washington state is now well ahead of most states in reforming its health care system.

 
Many reforms are currently in place, but key benefits and programs take effect in 2014, including Washington’s new Health Exchange, federal subsidies to help 477,000 people afford health insurance, an expansion of Medicaid for 328,000 poor childless adults and the ban on insurance companies from denying people coverage if they’re sick.

 
“I’m very pleased the Supreme Court chose to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” said Kreidler. “We’ve been busy for two years now implementing the reforms and have made great progress, but there’s a lot left to do before 2014. With the court decision out of the way, we can continue our focus on where it should be – bringing relief to families struggling to find quality, affordable health insurance.”

 
The millions of Washington state consumers benefitting from the Affordable Care Act’s early reforms include:

 
  • More than 2.4 million people who no longer face lifetime caps on their health benefits.
  • More than 52,000 young adults up to age 26 who have stayed on their parents’ health plans.
  • More than 1.2 million people who now have coverage for preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles.
  • More than 60,000 people in Medicare who have saved hundreds on their prescription drugs.

 
Washington state also leveraged millions in federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act to create:

 
  • Public access to health insurance rate requests. 
  • A new marketplace in Washington state for health insurance in 2014 – called an exchange – where people can shop for health plans, compare their options and apply for subsidies.
  • A temporary health insurance program (PCIP-WA) for people with pre-existing health conditions.

 
“The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it moves us in the right direction and is the only meaningful reform that’s passed in decades,” said Kreidler. “The debate was clearly contentious, and I’m grateful to have it behind us. But, now it’s time to focus on the work ahead – more than a million uninsured people in our state are counting on us.”