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News of the Day ... in Perspective

2/26/2005

Washington State proposes “pay or play”

House Bill 1702 (the “Health Care Responsibility Act”) and Senate Bill 5637 would require all employers of more than 50 persons either to provide health insurance or pay the state 85% of the cost of enrolling them in the Basic Health Plan.

“This is the very first step on the way to fundamentally changing the way we provide health care in this case,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, who heads the Senate Health Care Committee.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the bill would reduce the cost of health insurance for everyone, reduce the number of uninsured, and reduce uncompensated care (The Olympian, Feb 18, 2005, http://www.theolympian.com/home/news/20050218/topstories/90357.shtml).

The Employment Policies Institute estimates that this legislation could cost employers as $1.6 billion per year, and result in the loss of 25,500 jobs.

Another bill, House Bill 1486, would order state agencies to keep lists of employers who don’t provide health insurance. Its primary sponsor, Rep. Steve Conway, referenced a “Hit List,” according to Cheryl Hymes of Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

Additional information:

To read the bills, go to www.theolympian.com/home/specialsections/Legislature and search for bill number.

AAPS helps defeat “pay or play” in Washington State, AAPS News, July 1992, p. 2.

Letter from California chapter president Tom LaGrelius, M.D., on California “pay or play”.

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