A Push in Washington State for Universal HealthCare

Washington State’s Universal Health Care Commission was created by Senate Bill 5399 in 2021 and was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. Other than a few meetings by the commission, there hasn’t been much action.

If a hearing held a week and a half ago by the commission is any indication, we are going to see and hear more about universal healthcare in Washington State in the future. Those testifying were very passionate about getting universal healthcare. Many say patients are separated from their doctors and very good care and they blame bean counters at health insurance companies.

Here is what the commission is planning so far:

  • A single non-profit health financing entity will be created
  • It will be called the Washington Health Trust
  • To finance health care a 10.5% payroll tax will be levied against employers
  • 2% of that tax can be passed onto employees
  • The bill adds an 8.5% tax on capital gains and investment income that is more than $15,000

The current capital gains tax in Washington is 7% and it is levied on profits at or above $250,000 from the sale of assets like stocks and bonds.

PIA Washington Lobbyist Kris Tefft said the association will keep an eye on the bill going forward because while the bill didn’t go anywhere in the 2023 Washington Legislature, it will likely come up again in future sessions. She said the biggest problem proponents will have selling universal healthcare is the expense to businesses and consumers.

“It hasn’t moved since being introduced, wasn’t even given a hearing in committee,” she told Weekly Industry News. “The particular menu of taxes in the bill — and fairly high amount of those tax rates — would certainly engender enormous controversy and buzz if they became serious proposals the Democratic majorities chose to pursue.”

Under the plan, Washington residents would pay nothing for health care. The taxes would pay all costs. The plan’s backers say the higher taxes are offset by the amount of money employers and employees pay for private insurance and its copays and deductibles.

If enacted, the trust will replace Washington State’s Apple Health (Medicaid) and Medicare. In addition to health care, the trust will pay for dental care, vision care, reproductive health care and most prescription drugs.

The commission says in all the trust will save Washington $2.5 billion annually. It has until June 30, 2024 to file a final report with the Washington Legislature.

At the present time, Tefft isn’t terribly worried about the bill. However, it does bear paying close attention to what the commission does in the next year or so.

“We can’t rule anything out in the future because a universal health care system is certainly an objective of progressives,” she said. “But for the time being we view the proposal as largely aspirational.”

Source link: The Center Square — https://bit.ly/3A9yesh

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The Professional Insurance Agents Western Alliance is a membership organization promoting and enhancing the success of independent agencies seeking to grow, learn and be heard within the industry.


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