News Releases
Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Locke announces plan for affordable health insurance and calls on legislature to take action

OLYMPIA – Gov. Locke today announced his plan to stabilize the market for consumer, providers, and insurers while helping Washington citizens in all 39 counties buy affordable health insurance.

"To avoid a potential crisis, there must be action by the legislature now – and there must be compromise on all sides with insurers, business, consumers and providers," Locke said. "So I am pleased to announce my proposal that will lay the groundwork for long-term market stabilization and greater consumer access to more affordable, comprehensive health insurance."

Locke’s proposal focuses on providing every consumer in every county in our state the ability to purchase health insurance. It guarantees that each individual market plan include coverage in two critical areas: maternity and prescription drugs.

In addition, the plan would re-open the high-risk pool for the sickest of our state’s population and spread the cost of funding their care more equitably among business and insurers.

In March, Governor Locke issued a statement regarding the rapidly deteriorating condition of the individual health insurance in Washington State. In that statement, Locke pointed out several key areas that needed immediate attention including:

- 17 counties with no access to individual insurance;
- 71% cost increase since 1994;
- severely scaled-back benefit plans that do not provide consumers with real choice;
- dramatic financial losses experienced by the 3 plans currently participating in the market.

"I believe that this proposal is a crucial step in addressing the current crisis and will help the individual market from collapsing," Locke said. "I also see it as solid ground on which we can build more solutions toward a more stable market where consumers have access to affordable, diverse plans and insurers have incentives to participate and sell policies."

The governor thanked the many business and consumer representatives who provided their perspectives in developing this plan including: the Office of the Insurance Commissioner; the National Organization of Women; the NW AIDs Foundation; the League of Women Voters; Small Business; and Weyerhaeuser.

In addition, Locke also acknowledged the three health plans that provide the vast majority of individual insurance in Washington: Premera; Regence; and Group Health for their willingness to work on providing greater access and affordability.

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