Health Care Reform

How will federal health care reform affect me?

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law a bill to bring unprecedented health care reform to Americans. Why is this good news? Health reform will make health care more affordable, make health insurers more accountable, expand health coverage to more Americans, and make the health care system sustainable.

In a nutshell, health care reform:

  • Makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. It will reduce premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today. This helps 32 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today — and makes coverage more affordable for many more. Under the plan, 95 percent of Americans will be insured.

  • Sets up a new competitive health insurance market, which gives millions of Americans the same choices of insurance that members of Congress have.

  • Brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.

  • Ends discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.

  • Puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years — and more than $1 trillion over the second decade — by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

How will federal health care reform help Washington?

In Washington state, the federal legislation will make care more affordable, guarantee choices and enhance the quality of care we receive. The law complements and strengthens the health reforms we’ve made here, such as allowing workers to keep children up to 24 years of age on their policies and banning gender discrimination.

Governor Gregoire strongly believes health care reform will result in more secure and stable insurance coverage, as well as provide access to more affordable, higher-quality health care for all Washingtonians. For instance, under federal health care reform, children will be able to stay on their family’s coverage until age 26. Small businesses will be afforded protections. Lifetime caps on coverage will be removed. And the “doughnut hole” for Medicare drug coverage will be closed.

To favorably position Washington to take advantage of all opportunities associated with health care reform, Governor Gregoire signed an executive order creating a Health Care Cabinet to bring the full benefits of the new law to all Washington citizens. The Health Care Cabinet will identify all opportunities for Washington state to receive federal funds from the new law. It will write and implement the policies and rules necessary to carry out health care reform statewide for all affected state agencies, including consolidating duties, functions and powers related to the state’s overall health care purchasing strategy.

As this new legislation will be phased in over time, you have the opportunity to make informed decisions based on how these changes will affect you, your family and your business. To learn more, visit:

Federal resources

State resources

Have general questions?

Have questions about the following topics?

State resources:

State employee health benefits Jim Stevenson, jim.stevenson@hca.wa.gov
Age 26 dependent coverage Jim Stevenson, jim.stevenson@hca.wa.gov
State retiree health insurance Jim Stevenson, jim.stevenson@hca.wa.gov
Medicaid Jim Stevenson, jim.stevenson@hca.wa.gov
Other medical assistance Jim Stevenson, jim.stevenson@hca.wa.gov
Aging and long-term care Angel Sulivan, angel.sulivan@dshs.wa.gov
Developmental disabilities Angel Sulivan, angel.sulivan@dshs.wa.gov
Behavioral health Angel Sulivan, angel.sulivan@dshs.wa.gov
Veterans health care Heidi Audette, heidia@dvs.wa.gov

If you have questions specific to your health insurance coverage, please contact your insurance company.