Less coverage, higher cost

Republican health care bill causes uninsured rate to spike to highest levels in a decade

Under the proposed Republican American Health Care Act, there will be more uninsured Washingtonians than before the Affordable Care Act was implemented with working families in rural communities and low-income seniors hardest hit, a new state analysis finds.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler highlighted some of the proposal’s negative impacts on Washington state in a call today with reporters.

“If you thought a simple repeal of the ACA would be bad, this proposal is actually worse. We have made huge strides in health insurance coverage in this state and we cannot go back,” Inslee said. “All communities in Washington will be impacted by huge decreases in coverage at a greater cost.”

The impact on Washington would be severe:

  • 700,000 people will lose coverage (600,000 through Medicaid, up to 100,000 in the individual health insurance market)
  • The uninsured rate will go up from 5.8 percent to 15 percent — higher than before the ACA and higher than projections of ACA repeal with no replacement
  • To cover those losing Medicaid coverage would cost the state $1.3 billion per year by 2023 ($1.8 billion by 2028)
  • A new penalty is put in place when a consumer or patient tries to purchase insurance after a break in coverage.

“The Republican plan targets the working poor to subsidize tax breaks for the wealthy,” Kreidler said. “The communities that need the most assistance will be disproportionately impacted. For seven years, the Republicans have fought to overturn the ACA. Now we see that their best idea will have tragic results for thousands of people in our state.”

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office scored the proposal and reported that it would result in 24 million people becoming uninsured under this plan. Inslee says the only people who will benefit from the AHCA are the wealthiest Americans getting a proposed tax cut.

“The only ones to benefit from this scheme are wealthy Americans who get a massive tax cut paid for by eliminating health care for 24 million hard-working Americans,” Inslee said. “For the rest of us, we get less care at more cost.”

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has produced a series of charts that detail the full impact to Washington state.

Washington state was among the most successful in implementing the ACA and reducing uninsured rates. As a result:

  • 790,000 people gained coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange
  • The state has a record low uninsured rate, dropping from 14 percent to 5.8 percent (third steepest reduction in the country)
  • Uncompensated care costs have been cut
  • 51,000 jobs have been created
  • 20,000 cancer survivors received treatment
  • 30,000 people received substance use treatment
  • 24,000 veterans and spouses of veterans covered, cutting the uninsured rate among veterans by more than half

Inslee has met patients all across the state who have benefited from the ACA, and many others are sharing their stories about what the ACA has meant for them and their families.

  • Veronica, who unable to find health coverage due to a pre-existing condition (cancer) before the ACA.
  • Caleb, who got covered on Medicaid through the ACA and then moved on to a qualified health plan.
  • Becky and Todd, self-employed farmers from St. John. Becky has multiple sclerosis and the couple was paying $2,400 per month due to her pre-existing condition before enrolling in a qualified health plan.
  • Don, a minister who didn’t have health insurance when he was diagnosed with brain tumors. He was able to enroll in Medicaid.

More stories and information on the benefits of the ACA in Washington can be found at 1in4wa.com.

Gov. Jay Inslee discussing the risk of health care coverage losses at a press conference in Issaquah, Wash., Jan. 12, 2017 (Official Governor’s Office Photo)