Gov.Jay Inslee, joined by federal and state health care leaders and a coalition of more than 100 local organizations from across the state announced a plan to educate Washington residents about new opportunities for health care coverage under Medicaid expansion and Washington’s health benefit exchange.
“A healthy state has healthy families, and healthy families have health care coverage. Today’s Coverage is Here enrollment summit marks the beginning of an intense effort over the next several months to educate all communities across Washington about health reform and to help people enroll in a health plan that best fits their needs and their budget,” said Inslee. “It won’t be easy – it’s going to take a broad coalition to meet this challenge because this isn’t just about healthier families. It’s about a healthier economy, too. Our state will save an estimated $280 million by the end of 2015, and add 10,000 new jobs as a result of the coming health care reform changes.”
“On Oct. 1, Washington’s new health insurance marketplace will open for enrollment,” said Susan Johnson, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for Washingtonians to get connected with the security that quality, affordable health coverage provides—in some cases for the first time in their lives. I am thrilled to stand side-by-side with Washington’s health care leaders in launching the effort to make this new opportunity for coverage a reality.”
In addition to federal and state health care leaders, participants in the Seattle summit included representatives from hospitals, local health clinics, regional public health offices, health care providers, health advocates, community-based organizations, health insurers and labor unions. The groups shared best practices for targeting and reaching underserved populations and strategies for effective outreach to a wide range of populations.
The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will provide coverage for adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for an individual or $26,951 for a family of three), said Dorothy Teeter, director of the Health Care Authority.
“We anticipate adding more than 300,000 new clients to the 1.2 million current Medicaid caseload in the first years of health care reform,” Teeter said.
“Making sure all of the health plans include the new reforms and that they’re ready to enroll individuals and families, starting Oct. 1, has been a daunting task,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “All health plans and their rates must be approved by July 31. After that, our focus shifts to educating the hundreds of thousands of people who stand to benefit from reform. Our efforts today will lay the groundwork for the weeks to come.”
Participants also viewed a demo of the new Washington Healthplanfinder, where people will enroll in a health plan and learn if they qualify for premium and/or cost-sharing subsidies.
“For more than a year we have been hard at work creating the systems and structure for Washington Healthplanfinder, and are confident this new way to find, compare and enroll in quality health coverage will be ready to serve our state on Oct. 1,” said Pam MacEwan, Chief of Staff of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “This includes collaborating with a wide variety of critical partners and stakeholders to ensure residents know Washington Healthplanfinder will be providing new insurance offerings and financial help for thousands of Washingtonians.”
“Washington state has led the way on implementing health reform from the beginning and today’s gathering is yet another milestone,” said Inslee. “Nearly 1 million uninsured Washingtonians stand to gain health insurance through our efforts and more than half of them could qualify for free or low-cost health insurance or financial help paying for premiums and co-pays. Enrolling everyone will take an all-hands-on-deck effort. Today’s event is the first step.”
Materials from the Coverage is Here enrollment summit are available here.