Addressing the spiraling costs of health care is essential to making health care more affordable for more people. It's just as essential to helping businesses remain competitive and to restoring our state's ability to adequately fund priorities such as education.
Fortunately, passage of the federal Affordable Care Act has presented us with the ideal opportunity to implement the kinds of cost-saving, health-improving reforms that will help us achieve those goals. Gov. Inslee is bullish about health care reform because he knows the status quo is dampening our economic recovery and not adequately meeting the needs of businesses or citizens. His goals are simple: boost access to primary care, improve the quality of care and cut costs.
Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians already benefit from increased coverage for preventive care, the ability to insure their children longer, and the elimination of restrictions and caps on insurance coverage. We will build upon the Affordable Care Act and make Washington a leader in the delivery of high-quality, lower-cost care.
Gov. Inslee's health care priorities:
- Extend coverage to hundreds of thousands more Washingtonians by expanding Medicaid. Families with insurance already pay about $1,000 per year to help cover the costs for those without insurance. Expansion of Medicaid comes at very little cost to our state but will reap enormous benefits for our economy and for those families who will finally be able to access affordable health care. Studies indicate that Medicaid expansion will bring in more than $2 billion per year to our state economy and generate tens of thousands of jobs.
- Pay for quality instead of quantity. Currently, providers are reimbursed for office visits and procedures. This creates incentives to provide more care instead of better care. We must realign the financial incentives in state contracts for Medicaid and public employee health care to pay for care that makes a difference while supporting similar payment models in the private insurance market that will pay for the right care in the right setting. And we must improve efforts to encourage community-based and home-based models of care for seniors and family members with disabilities.
- Curb state employee costs by improving health and focusing on primary and preventive care. Companies such as Boeing and governments such as King County have successfully shrunk costs and improved the health and productivity of their employees by working with them to better manage chronic conditions and engage in preventive care strategies. Similar strategies can help our state and state employees save millions of dollars.
- Stabilize rural emergency services and primary care funding. Washington's agriculture industry generates tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and supports more than 130,000 jobs. But changes in payments to rural primary care providers threaten the viability of rural health care and, consequently, rural economies. Gov. Inslee has directed his administration to work with these providers in advance of Medicaid expansion to ensure we continue to meet their community needs.