Senate votes to give Washington residents more affordable health-care choices

20140212_LegWA_2054abCalling it a relief to citizens who have found themselves without affordable catastrophic health insurance, Sen. Steve O’Ban today led a majority of the Senate in approving Senate Bill 6464. O’Ban, the west Pierce County Republican who sponsored the measure, said it represents hope for people who have lost their medical insurance due to Obamacare.

“I have received hundreds of e-mails, letters and online messages from those who’ve had their insurance policies canceled. In other cases, people in my district have had their deductibles and premiums double. These are real people who are now having a very difficult time finding insurance to cover their families,” said O’Ban, who represents the 28th Legislative District. “230,000 Washingtonians have had their health-care insurance plans canceled after implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and they’ve been unable to replace them.”

SB 6464 would allow Washington residents to buy catastrophic health-care plans in other states. Additionally, it would require the state insurance commissioner – for a period of one year – to approve plans that do not meet the requirements of Obamacare. Also, health carriers could continue offering certain individual or small-group health plans in the market outside of the health-care exchange, regardless of whether the plans meet the requirements of Obamacare.

O’Ban’s measure would bar the insurance commissioner from prohibiting the continuation of these plans – reversing an action taken to prevent residents from purchasing affordable care from other states (even though President Obama allowed states to obtain exemption waivers) – and allow out-of-state carriers to offer insurance products in Washington.

“People are being forced to choose between health care and paying their mortgage,” O’Ban added. “In our state, if you try to find a replacement catastrophic health-care insurance plan there is only one carrier in each county who offers one. That’s not choice, that’s the elimination of choice. With this bill, if you liked your health insurance, we’ll get it back for you.”

SB 6464 could be considered in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.