Governor Gregoire Signs Legislation to Provide High Quality, Affordable Health Care to Washingtonians

For Immediate Release: May 2, 2007

SEATTLE - Governor Chris Gregoire today signed into law a measure she requested that, based on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access, will help to provide high quality, affordable health care to Washingtonians.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to quality health care that fits within their budget, but the current system is not working for too many of our citizens,” said Governor Gregoire. “The recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission are the foundation for this bill and this is a significant step to increase access to high-quality care.”

Governor Gregoire’s bill includes over 20 initiatives, many recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on health care, that will address cost, quality and access to our health care system, including:

  • Establishing the Health Insurance Partnership to assist small businesses with insurance;
  • Creating health record banks to connect providers and patients with their health information when and where they need it;
  • Expanding coverage to dependents up to age 25; and
  • Changing how we reimburse for health care to pay for quality care and prevention, better manage chronic illnesses and establish a Quality Forum to evaluate trends in procedures across the state.

These efforts are designed to build on Governor Gregoire’s 5-point strategy to improve how health care is delivered and to target investments to health care that is proven to work.

“Access to quality health care is a national problem. Families and businesses across the country are struggling to afford the care they need for their family and employees,” said Governor Gregoire. “We cannot just keep throwing more money into a broken health care system – we actually need to fix that system. This means we need to pay for care that we know works, focus on prevention, better manage chronic illnesses, help patients get more involved in their health care and build a more efficient system. This bill does just that.”

Governor Gregoire last May announced the formation of the Blue Ribbon Commission to find ways to provide accessible, affordable, quality health care for all Washingtonians. Co-chaired by Sen. Pat Thibaudeau, the bipartisan Commission released its final report in January.

The commission outlined several key goals including access to affordable health insurance for all Washington children by 2010 and all Washingtonians by 2012. The report provides 16 specific recommendations and action steps to build a high-quality health care system, provide affordable insurance options for our families, ensure the health of the next generation and promote prevention and healthy lifestyles.

Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5930, requested by Governor Gregoire and sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent), passed the Senate with 31 votes and passed the House with 63 votes. The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the Legislative session, except for select sections that become effective immediately.