Republicans Oppose Public Health Option Bill

The state House of Representatives has approved Governor Inslee’s bill that would add a public option to health insurance plans offered in the Washington State Health Benefits Exchange. The measure passed along party lines, with Republicans voting against it. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast filed this Special Report from the state Capitol.

SCHMICK: “This is government designed, government run. This is a big step toward socialized medicine.”

SATTGAST: And with those words by Representative Joe Schmick, the Republican leader on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, a debate of more than an hour and 45 minutes on the governor’s public health option bill dominated the floor of the state House of Representatives Friday.

Republicans, such as Kalama Representative Ed Orcutt, argued House Bill 1523 would increase health care costs, reduce options and eliminate providers.

ORCUTT: “It really starts to spiral us downward to where more and more people are going to have to rely on this, because we made it so unaffordable for their employers to cover them.”

SATTGAST:
Representative Richard DeBolt serves on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.


DeBOLT:
“About free enterprise and competition – driving prices down or monopoly single-payer systems keeping costs low. I have never seen in any economic theory where a single-payer system or a single entity drives costs down because they don’t have to compete.”

SATTGAST:  The governor’s proposal would have all insurance companies with plans in the state exchange to offer a “standardized” public option plan by 2021. By 2025, only the government-approved and taxpayer funded health insurance plan would be available for the individual market.

18th District Representative Brandon Vick said the government subsidies in the bill would destroy the private market and eventually make it harder to get health care.

VICK: “There’s just no math that winds up working out this way that says the private sector will be able to stay and survive.”

SATTGAST: The bill passed 57 to 41. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration. John Sattgast, Olympia.