Washington Governor Calls for Universal Health Care

January 12, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire released late Thursday the final version of a report on health care which calls for access to health coverage for every person in the state within five years.

According to the Olympian, the 23-page report includes 16 recommendations issued by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access, including ensuring access to effective care for all residents by 2012. The report also calls for using state purchasing to improve health care quality by having payments based on good outcomes and practices.

The report also suggests reorganizing the insurance market so it is more accessible, using possible state subsidies and pools of insured to win better rates, as well as improving coverage through a partnership with the federal government, The Olympian said. The Commission recommended giving people more choice in selecting private insurance plans and requiring insurers to cover dependents of insured families up to age 25.

Other recommendations in the report, according to the Olympian, included:

  • Better management of patients with chronic illnesses, which affect 5% of the population but generate an estimated 50% of costs,
  • Giving consumers more information about medical costs and treatment success rates,
  • Better use of health-information technology to manage records and share information electronically,
  • Reducing costly emergency room visits by people who can get care more cheaply and effectively in clinics, and
  • Launching strategies to improve children’s health through nutrition and physical activity.

The news report saidWashington state lawmakers have already promised to make sure all children have health insurance by 2010.

The report puts Washington into a long line of other states proposing universal health care for residents (SeeOregon Latest to Move Toward Universal Health Care).