Dear friends and neighbors,
Although the regular session adjourned in Olympia March 11, the House and Senate majority party could not come to an agreement on their budget and tax proposals. On March 15, the Legislature was called for a special session by the governor to iron out budget and tax differences in the Legislature. I’m disappointed at the wasted time during the regular session that could have prevented a $14,000-a-day special session. The state constitution provides 30 days for a special session, but the governor said she wanted to get the work done in seven days.
Now in our ninth day of special session, budget writers seem to be sitting on their hands with poker faces, waiting for the other chamber to blink. Many of the days I travel to Olympia, we sit around for hours waiting for the majority party to return from their caucus discussions. The leaders in Olympia have failed the people who sent them here to represent their interests and make thought-out decisions with their tax dollars.
Whatever the majority decides for raising your taxes, I will not support. Check out more information about special session here, including the differences between the House and Senate Democrats’ tax packages.
Federal health care legislation
Some of you have contacted me about the federal health care legislation that narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21.
Although I represent you in Olympia rather than Washington D.C., I support the congressional bipartisan opposition to this effort. We all know our health care system faces serious problems. Too many of our friends and neighbors either do not have access to, or cannot afford, health insurance. But the federal health care legislation is the wrong way to go about addressing these problems.
My most significant areas of concern with the legislation are:
- It will create increased health insurance premiums for families and individuals due to mandates on private insurance plans.
- It will give the federal government the power to make everyone buy health insurance – if a person does not comply, he or she could be fined by the federal government.
- It will cost the federal government $938 billion, at a time when federal spending is out-of-control and the national debt is more than $12 trillion.
- It will dramatically increase the number of people on Medicaid, when our country cannot afford to pay for those who are already on Medicaid.
- It will be a giant step toward a government-controlled health care system, instead of a patient-controlled system.
I also agree with those, including Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who believe the federal health care legislation unconstitutionally imposes new requirements on our state and its citizens. The unprecedented federal mandate that requires all Washingtonians to purchase health insurance violates the Commerce Clause and the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Lost in the national debate is the fact that many health care challenges can, and should be, addressed at the state level.
State health care solutions I support
I have been supporting a 10-point health care solutions plan at the state level that would lower costs, increase choices and repair the state’s safety net for the most vulnerable people in our state. The solutions are based on fixing what is broken and preserving what is working well. The plan would not only help families and individuals, but also small businesses. Here are the 10 bills, including what happened to them in the 2010 regular session.
- Purchase health care plans approved in other states – House Bill 1871
- Allow Washingtonians to choose from a wide variety of health care plans available in other states. Did not receive public hearing.
- New choices for small employers (small group reform) – House Bill 1868
- Young adult plans (19-34 year olds) – House Bill 1866
- Allow health care plans specifically designed to meet the needs and budgets of young adults. Did not receive public hearing.
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA) for state employees – House Bill 2875
- The governor has refused to implement legislation signed into law in 2006. This bill would require the Public Employees Benefit Board to move forward on an HSA option and report to the Legislature by end of year if an HSA option will still not be available by January 2011. Passed House 96-1; stalled in Senate
- Encourage and incentivize health care innovation – House Bill 1867
- Repeal certificate of need laws to allow more options and choices. Did not receive public hearing.
- Provide an "opt-out" of the "every category" provider mandate – House Bill 1865
- Allow the option of purchasing a health care plan that does not include the "every category" provider mandate. Did not receive public hearing.
- Cut taxes on health care plans – House Bill 1872
- Repeal the 2 percent insurance premium tax for HSAs, and provide small employers and self-employed individuals a tax credit for providing health insurance. Did not receive public hearing.
- Reform the Basic Health Plan (BHP) – House Bill 2807
- Transform the BHP into a premium-subsidy program for legal residents ages 35 to 64. Did not receive public hearing.
- Comprehensive medical malpractice reform – House Bill 2814
- Keep doctors in our state and prevent lawsuit abuse. Did not receive public hearing.
- Protect the rights of Washingtonians to make their own health care choices – House Bill 2669
- Prohibit laws and rules that interfere with an individual’s right to make their own health care choices. Did not receive public hearing.
If we enacted all of these bills, our state would address many of its health care problems and be less reliant on what may or may not happen in Washington, D.C. I encourage you to read further about these bills by clicking on the links and supporting these solutions in Washington state.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. It’s an honor to serve you.
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