Washington State Seeks Federal Approval to Expand Health Insurance to Previously Uninsured – InsuranceNewsNet


OLYMPIA, WA, May 17 (TNSpol) — The Washington Health Profit Exchange issued the next news release:

In an effort to expand health coverage options to all residents, Washington state submitted a groundbreaking Section 1332 Waiver Application to the federal government for approval on Friday, May 13. The waiver, if approved, will allow all Washington residents no matter immigration status to enroll in health and dental coverage through the state marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder. If approved, the coverage might be available starting in 2024 to the newly eligible Washingtonians.

“Because the introduction of the Inexpensive Care Act we have now been charting a course toward providing medical insurance coverage for all Washingtonians,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This waiver comes at a vital time in our health care journey and its approval would strengthen our ability to supply equitable access for historically marginalized and uninsured populations.”

In 2021, the Washington State Legislature directed the Washington Health Profit Exchange (Exchange) to explore coverage pathways for Washington residents who don’t currently qualify for state or federal coverage options. The Legislature authorized the Exchange to hunt a federal Section 1332 waiver for this purpose and required a state-based solution no later than plan 12 months 2024. If approved, the waiver may also allow newly eligible individuals and families to learn from Cascade Care Savings, the state’s recent premium assistance program, that might be starting this fall for plan 12 months 2023.

“There are numerous in our state who’ve never had a probability to purchase medical insurance,” said CEO Pam MacEwan. “This waiver gives those individuals a probability to secure meaningful health coverage for themselves and family members. Moreover, this chance aligns with other initiatives, including Cascade Care and premium sponsorship programs, to further state efforts to strengthen the person medical insurance market and lower the speed of the uninsured.”

The Exchange conducted a state public comment period to collect feedback on the Section 1332 Waiver Application from March 31-May 2, 2022, and received overwhelming support. Comments in support of the waiver were submitted by 134 organizations representing local and national medical insurance carriers; provider associations; community health clinics; consumer and immigrant advocacy organizations; state and native elected officials; and 365 individuals. All submitted public comments can be found within the Washington Section 1332 Waiver Application (https://www.wahbexchange.org/about-the-exchange/what-is-the-exchange/laws/1332-waiver-information/).

Washington is requesting a Section 1332 waiver to be certain that comprehensive coverage and more cost-effective selections can be found to uninsured Washington residents (https://www.wahbexchange.org/content/dam/wahbe-assets/laws/Washington%20Health%20Benefit%20Exchange%20Waiver%201332%20-%20Summary%20Handout.pdf). Greater than 105,000 Washington state residents — nearly 1 / 4 of the state’s total uninsured population — cannot access medical insurance resulting from federal restrictions related to their immigration status. This adversely impacts individual health outcomes and funds, the health care sector (increasing bad debt and uncompensated care), and Washington’s economy. The waiver will enable individuals to buy health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder and leverage state-funded affordability programs that help lower premium costs for all individual market consumers.

Section 1332 Waivers are subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Treasury (the Departments). For a Section 1332 waiver to be approved, the Departments must determine that the waiver meets designated federal guardrails, to make sure the coverage offered under the waiver is comprehensive, reasonably priced, ends in coverage gains, and doesn’t increase the federal deficit.

Next steps: The Departments have as much as 45 days to conduct a completeness review after which may also conduct a 30-day federal public comment period. The Exchange has requested approval by Aug. 1, 2022. After the applying is deemed complete, the Departments have as much as 180 days to reply to the state’s waiver request. For more details about state innovation waivers and the approval process, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website (https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/State-Innovation-Waivers/Section_1332_State_Innovation_Waivers-#Section_1332_State_Application_Waiver_Applications).

Reminders: Enrollment is obtainable year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice of 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last 12 months.


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