On January 8th, I wrote an article about Governor and Presidential Candidate Jay Inslee’s so called “public option” legislation, “Cascade Care”, primarily based on his office’s press release regarding the bill. Inslee hadn’t released the full text at the time, nor had Cascade Care even had a hearing in the Washington State Legislature. Now that it has passed, it is time for a more thorough analysis of the bill.
Dozens of times the media has published articles about Inslee’s success – crowing that it was the first public option passed in the country. The problem is that it isn’t a public option by any definition. A public option is defined as a non-profit, government run healthcare program that competes with private insurance. But Cascade Care is in actuality the government contracting with for-profit insurance companies to lower premiums to 10% of an individual’s income. Additionally, this cap would only be available to people who currently purchase their healthcare through the exchange, and who make less than 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. As you may have guessed from all those criteria, this is not public, nor an option for most Washingtonians.
However, all those details aren’t even the most worrisome issues with the misinformation surrounding this bill. Are you ready for the real kicker? The bill doesn’t even establish ANY sort of coverage for ANY residents of Washington State: it is just a study of how to possibly create such a system. Here is the explanation I received from Rashi Gupta, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jay Inslee:
“After the implementation plan/report is submitted by Nov. 15, 2020, the legislature will have the option of acting on the proposed implementing legislation. The bill requires that a plan be submitted but does not establish a state subsidy program, further legislative action would be required for that.”
Representative Eileen Cody explained further:
“[Cascade Care] is just a plan that will inform the legislature what the different funding options might cost if we decide we can fund. There is no money budgeted for subsidies at this point so the answer to your questions remains to be seen.”
My questions were pretty straightforward:
“1. What happens after 2021, who qualifies after [Section 6] expires? 2. Does [Cascade Care] address the cost of copays and deductibles?”
So, not only is there not a real public option, but according to the responses from Cody and Gupta, Cascade Care isn’t even legislation to implement the not-really-a-public-option that Inslee has been touting as evidence that he is a progressive governor and presidential candidate. There is no funding in the bill to even create such a program.
I am tired of being disappointed in the doublespeak and deception coming from our elected officials. It is not particularly surprising though, since the elected officials who sponsored, supported and/or authored “Cascade Care” like Representative Eileen Cody, Senator Annette Cleveland, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Governor Jay Inslee, all take campaign contributions from insurance PACs and hospitals. But the dishonesty of what is being said about Cascade Care is downright shameful. The most recent estimate of the uninsured rate in Washington is 522,000 residents and there are many more who are underinsured. People are rationing life saving medications like insulin, and going bankrupt from high deductibles. Just this past week, in Inslee’s own state of Washington, an elderly couples’ deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide. The reason cited? The high cost of medical bills.
We literally cannot afford to have politicians playing political games with our healthcare. The time to pass universal healthcare was decades ago. If you agree, please join Whole Washington. We plan on circumventing our elected officials who refuse to take real action. Visit our website today for more information on how we will do that at https://wholewashington.org.
Please sign this petition: Tell Governor Jay Inslee & the Washington State Legislature to Support a True Universal Healthcare Bill