Inslee, Kreidler tell congressional Republicans not to take away Washingtonians’ health care

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Gov. Jay Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler today sent a letter to U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy voicing their strong opposition to congressional efforts to repeal or roll back the Affordable Care Act, or to damage the Medicaid and Medicare programs, which provide affordable health coverage for millions of Washingtonians. The letter was sent in response to McCarthy and other Republican leaders asking governors and insurance commissioners to comment on their upcoming plans to repeal health care policies that impact millions of American children and families, without offering any plans to replace them.

Since ACA implementation in 2013:

  • Approximately 750,000 additional Washingtonians have gained access to health care coverage
  • Washington’s uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent to an unprecedented 5.8 percent
  • An estimated 51,000 health-related jobs have been added to Washington’s economy
  • The rate of health care cost inflation has slowed to about 3 percent per year, well below historic inflation rates

“Any attempt to roll back the ACA is a roll back on one of the most important things we’ve done to help working families in recent years,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Washington has shown how well the ACA works. It’s helped hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians get access to health care, it’s created jobs, and it’s helping us transform health care delivery, especially in the context of our other efforts related to Medicaid. To the extent Congressman McCarthy and Republicans want to work on improving the law, we’re ready to help. But any vote that repeals without replacing, or defunds, the care Washingtonians receive – and any plan that takes away health care from Washington families - is one we will fight.”

“Any action to repeal the ACA without a viable, meaningful replacement will unravel all of the progress we’ve made and seriously imperil our health insurance market,” said Commissioner Kreidler. “Washington state has benefited from its early adoption of health reform, yet we know there is more work to do. We are ready to participate in the national conversation on improving access to health care for all Americans, but we will not support ideas that move us backwards. Whatever proposals Rep. McCarthy and the Republicans are considering, they must first do no harm.”

You can read Inslee and Kreidler’s letter below and online here:

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Majority Leader

United States House of Representatives

H-107, U.S. Capitol Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Majority Leader McCarthy:

We want to make clear first and foremost that it would be a moral outrage to repeal the health care policies that are so beneficial to millions of Washingtonians without providing an alternative system to make sure all our families continue to have access to affordable care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had a profound, positive impact on the residents of our state. It has improved not only the health of our residents but also the strength of our economy and the stability of our state budget. Repealing or significantly undermining the ACA puts hundreds of thousands of our residents at risk of losing their health coverage. Any effort to repeal the law without a viable replacement will seriously undermine our health insurance market and our state’s economy.

Under the ACA, our uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent to an unprecedented 5.8 percent. Nearly 600,000 people have gained coverage through our expansion of Medicaid, and our uncompensated care costs have fallen 50 percent, from $2.3 billion to $1.2 billion. Also as a result of implementing the ACA, Washington State has added 51,000 jobs – most in the private sector. Our GDP has increased by more than $2.7 billion, and we’ve cut state expenditures by $350 million and increased state revenue. Our state’s health care rate of inflation has also been greatly moderated by the law. Our expenditures for health care have increased at about 3 percent per year - well below historic inflation.

Washington has a thriving individual health insurance market, with 13 insurers selling 154 health plans. Enrollment for 2017 through our exchange is up 9 percent from last year with over 160,000 Washingtonians having enrolled in qualified private health plans.

Now that most Washingtonians are covered, we are focusing on additional improvements, including working with health providers and insurers to build performance-based incentives that create real quality improvements, at a lower cost. We are working to integrate mental health and substance use treatment with our physical health system to improve the quality and coordination of care, decrease emergency room use and improve the medical care for our most vulnerable patients. This work is being done in close partnership with private managed care plans that serve the vast majority of Washington’s Medicaid enrollees. All of these improvements will not be possible if people lose their health coverage. The Honorable Kevin McCarthy December 9, 2016 Page 2

The ACA and our country’s health care system need improvements. We ask that when considering proposals, that you first do no harm. Any actions you take must improve the health of our residents and the quality of our health care system, while protecting our state budget and economy. Decisions to cut funding before developing a replacement puts the health of Washingtonians at great risk through undermining and destabilizing their health care.

As statewide elected officials charged with overseeing the health and welfare of our state’s residents, we look forward to discussing all proposals that do not cause our people to lose coverage and that will not destabilize our health insurance markets, raise premium or drive up uncompensated care costs.

As the 115th Congress convenes, we also urge you not to undermine the Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance and Medicare programs. They have provided affordable health coverage for millions of people for fifty years. In Washington State, the Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare programs cover approximately 1.79 million and 1.19 million seniors, disabled and low-income children and adults, respectively. Our residents cannot afford any dismantling of these essential federal programs – whether through block grants, per-capita caps, privatization or other means.

On behalf of the people of the state of Washington, we strongly urge Congress to reconsider repealing or undermining the Affordable Care Act. We stand ready to work with you to maintain gains and improve the law so more Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.

Media Contacts

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
Commissioner Kreidler’s Communications Office