As the High Court peppers law professors with Constitutional queries concerning the healthcare reform law this week, the states march on with their progress, to some degree.
A health exchange enabling the law has just passed the Washington State legislature, with a partial veto of a requirement that certain provisions be self-sustaining, and a removal of restrictions on the authority of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
The Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2319 passed the Legislature on March 3, and was signed by the governor March 23. The bill further defines the state-based health insurance exchange required by the federal government under the new health care law.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler co-requested the bill with Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire.
Gregoire vetoed Sec. 26: “If at any time the exchange is no longer self-sustaining as defined by the operations of the exchange it shall be suspended.”
The Association of Washington Business (AWB) had formally requested section vetoes of the bill, specifically sections 6 and 7, alleging there would be more restrictive requirements than were necessary, including a section on market rules and finding fault with large group plans’ necessary conformance to actuarial tiers the federal law intended for individual and small coverage. See : //www.awb.org/Docs/ltrGregoireVeto2319.pdf
With all the risk levelers inn place, the Exchange acts to protect against adverse selection, the group said. The additional market rules in the legislation could easily result in “fewer choices and higher costs for consumers in the external market if some carriers choose to withdraw from Washington rather than being forced to participate in markets beyond their tolerance for risk,” the AWB had stated in a letter to Gov. Gregoire.
“Unfortunately, in our estimation, this measure falls woefully short of the positive attributes that could have been brought forward,” wrote AWB President Don Brunell in his letter to Gov. Gregoire. “Instead, it poses a significant threat to the viability of existing health plans and if left as is, will disrupt health coverage for thousands of people in our state,” he wrote.