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Inslee slams ‘Trumpcare,’ but Washington Senate health care leader says wait for final plan

UPDATED: Wed., March 15, 2017, 10:52 p.m.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talks to reporters Monday, March 6, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talks to reporters Monday, March 6, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – The proposed rewrite of the nation’s health care law would leave some 700,000 Washington residents without medical insurance and blow a $351 million hole in the state budget, two top state Democrats said Wednesday.

But there’s no way of telling what changes Congress will eventually make to the health care system, and the state will have two years to address any final revisions, the Republican head of the Senate Health Care Committee said.

Gov. Jay Inslee was joined by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in denouncing the proposed American Health Care Act proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. They both called the new plan “Trumpcare,” although they referred to the existing law as the more formal Affordable Care Act rather than “Obamacare.”

A new study for Washington confirmed earlier estimates that some 600,000 residents – most of them working families who get health care through expanded Medicaid – would lose coverage, as would another 100,000 who get insurance through the health insurance exchange, Inslee said.

The federal government picks up most of the cost of Medicaid expansion, so along with the people who lose coverage, the state would lose the $351 million the federal government sends to cover those costs.

The hardest hit would be young adults, seniors and middle-income people in rural areas, Kreidler said.

To replicate that coverage with the state carrying the full expense would cost an estimated $1.3 billion a year by 2023, the study said.

“We do not have that money,” Inslee said.

Taking advantage of the ACA brought the number of uninsured residents down to about 410,000, less than half the number in the state before the law took effect, the study said. It also helped keep rural hospitals in business, which in some small towns are among the largest employers.

At various times, Inslee likened the GOP proposal to a train wreck, the Titanic sinking or sacrificing residents at the altar of the rich. He also used the military acronym FUBAR, whose G-rated translation is Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.

But State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, suggested later that Inslee and Kreidler should calm down. Both former congressmen “know better than to suggest that any major health-care policy bill, Democrat or Republican, would become law without undergoing revisions first,” she said in a statement released by staff.

“No one can say how many people bought health coverage through the state exchange to avoid the Obama tax penalty and how many of those would be affected by a new federal health-care policy,” she said, and no one knows what’s ahead for Medicaid.

Washington has been a leader in health care policy and that won’t change, she added.