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State Of Washington Will Launch Universally Available Health Care Option

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a measure that puts the state on track to cr...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a measure that puts the state on track to create the first 'public option' health insurance in the US, Monday, May 13, 2019.

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Washington state will offer a set of tiered health care plans by 2021 that will cover standard services and are expected to be up to 10% cheaper than comparable private insurance. These state plans will be available to all residents regardless of income.

Aired: May 14, 2019 | Transcript

On Monday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat who is also running for president, signed into law a bill making the state the first to enter the health insurance market with a universally available public option.

Washington residents may choose the public option regardless of their income beginning in 2021.

To ensure that enough people choose the public option to make it work, the state said it will set rates about 10% lower than comparable private insurance.

Reimbursements to doctors and hospitals will be capped at up to 160% higher than Medicare payouts. These rates are much higher than those found in other states with public options.

California is also looking for ways to expand health care. At his inauguration in January, Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to move California toward a single-payer health care system.

Tom James, a Seattle-based reporter for Associated Press, joins KPBS Midday Edition to discuss Washington's new initiative.

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