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Report Offers Glimpse of Health Law’s Impact On Washington State

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is weighing in on the fate of the Affordable Care Act with a report released this week about what’s at stake for Washingtonians if the law is overturned by the Supreme Court.

“There’s so much confusion and misunderstanding out there,” says Kreidler, a Democrat. “This is kind of a heads-up, an early warning that depending on what the court ends up doing, this is what’s in jeopardy for Washingtonians.”

The report finds that:

  • The uninsured in Washington have grown from 12 percent of the population in 2004 to a projected 16 percent in 2013; from about 700,000 to 1.1 million in raw numbers.
  • Some 328,000 currently uninsured Washingtonians would gain coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.
  • Another 477,400 uninsured residents of the state would qualify for subsidies to buy insurance in the exchanges.

As a state, Washington has an odd relationship to the federal health care law.  Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire supports it, and the state has been working full steam ahead on implementation. Washington received more than $127 million in federal grants to create its health insurance exchange.

On the other side of the issue is the state’s attorney general.  Republican Rob McKenna joined 25 other GOP attorneys general to challenge the ACA.  He thinks requiring people to buy health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional.  McKenna also hopes to be Washington’s next governor.  (Gregoire is not seeking re-election). But McKenna’s opposition to the law is not as broad as fellow AGs on the lawsuit. He has said he doesn’t support repealing the whole law, but he objects to the mandate for people to buy health insurance.

McKenna is being sued by a group of Washington women who contend that he hasn’t represented the state’s position fairly in the federal lawsuit against the ACA.  The case scheduled to be heard on June 22.

This post is part of a reporting partnership that includes KUOW,

and Kaiser Health News.