Condotta applauds decision to increase state employee health insurance contributions
Lawmaker says more choices, flexibility should also be included in health care options
Despite protests by labor unions about the Washington Health Care Authority's (HCA) decision to increase state employee contributions to their health care plans, Rep. Cary Condotta says it reflects the reality in the private market.
“The debate about the cost of health insurance is finally moving in the right direction in Washington state,” said Condotta, R-East Wenatchee. “Health Care Authority Administrator Steve Hill made a great decision recently to raise the deductibles and co-pays for state employee health care plans. This is the kind of gutsy decision-making Olympia needs right now. More bold action like this may keep us from following California over the financial cliff. On the heels of the Legislature's refusal to be blackmailed by public unions, the HCA finally stepped up and faced the reality that public employee health insurance plans should mimic costs in private company plans.”
The only way to reduce health care costs is to ensure individuals know the true cost of care and incentivize healthy choices, Condotta added. He also believes there is value in allowing employees more choices, such as the ability to participate in the true cost of health care through Health Savings Accounts (HSA).
“Let's get back to true insurance instead of prepaid health care. It worked before and it will work again,” said Condotta. “Now if we could just make Health Savings Accounts available to all state employees, as is required under House Bill 1383 signed into law in 2006. This type of option could actually reduce costs and premiums for all plans. Now is the time for bold action to reverse the perverse cost increases in health care caused by low deductibles and co-pays. Steve Hill and the board have taken the first step, now let's get the HSA option in place and watch health care costs decline and people's health improve accordingly.”
House Bill 1383, which requires the state to offer all public employees the option of an HSA, was introduced by Condotta and passed in both chambers, then signed into law by the governor. HSAs, authorized as part of the Medicare bill of 2003, are savings accounts individuals and families own and can use to pay for health care expenses. HSAs are coupled with a high-deductible health insurance plan and employers may deposit a portion of the money formerly spent on an employee's health care premiums into the HSA. The account can be used by the employee to pay for health expenses, including meeting their deductibles, co-pays and prescription costs.
Despite the law requiring HSAs be offered as part of state employees' health insurance options, the Health Care Authority has refused to allow state employees the choice.
“As a small-business owner on the front lines of how to best serve the hard-working employees at my shop, I know both public and private employers must provide options, such as HSAs, as well as traditional plans to staff. But, that choice should be left to the employee, not a government bureaucrat,” said Condotta.
For more information, contact: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252
###Washington State House Republican Communications