OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed into legislation a bill that creates a public option for Washington’s well being profit exchange, a transfer meant to decrease prices and enhance insurance coverage protection throughout the state.

Sponsored by Democratic lawmakers and requested by Inslee, Senate Bill 5526 creates “Cascade Care,” a program to supply standardized plans for particular person well being protection, to be supplied by non-public insurers on the profit exchange.

The plans received’t be obtainable till January 2021, and it’s too early to know what precise protection they may provide or how a lot they’ll drive down health-insurance prices.

However in remarks Monday, Inslee referred to as it the primary state public-option plan in America and a counterweight to makes an attempt by Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration to roll again health-care protection.

“This legislation is one way for our state to push back, to ensure that all Washingtonians have high-quality health-care insurance, an option they can afford that is available across the state of Washington,” mentioned Inslee, who can be operating for president.

The new legislation directs the state Well being Profit Exchange to work with the Well being Care Authority and others to create standardized well being plans.

These plans should be constructed with a watch towards lowering deductibles and limiting will increase in premium charges, in accordance with a legislative evaluation of the bill. They have to additionally make extra companies obtainable earlier than a deductible and decrease limitations to enhancing and sustaining a affected person’s well being.

“We want to see lower premiums and lower deductibles over what’s being offered today on the exchange,” mentioned Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle and sponsor of the bill.

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The legislation would require well being plans to reimburse medical suppliers and services at as much as 160% of the federal Medicare charge. That’s a larger charge than the unique model of the bill, which capped the reimbursement on the Medicare charge.

That larger charge was obligatory to assist make sure that health-insurance firms would take part in this system, Frockt mentioned.

Senate Bill 5526 can be geared toward shoring up Washington’s well being exchange by offering further protection. At present, 14 of Washington’s 39 counties have solely a single insurance coverage option obtainable for individuals looking for protection on the exchange.

In line with Jason McGill, senior coverage adviser for Inslee, these are: Asotin, Chelan, Clallam, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skagit and Wahkiakum counties.

Lawmakers additionally authorised payments to make prescription drug prices extra clear and shield shoppers from excessive out-of-network medical payments. Legislators additionally handed a wide-ranging plan to enhance Washington’s psychological well being system.

One other health-care bill, to create a work group to review the feasibility of creating a state common health-care program, didn’t cross this session.

However Democratic lawmakers included $500,000 within the new two-year state working finances to review common well being care, with a preliminary report back to be made public in November.