Press Releases

Clark County Legislators Demand More Health Care Options for Clark County Residents

Currently only one provider is allowed to offer plans in Clark County until at least 2015—fewest choices in the state

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VANCOUVER, August 28, 2013 | comments

VANCOUVER – In a letter sent yesterday, 16 of Clark County’s elected legislators called on Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to expand health insurance provider options for Clark County residents participating in the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  The letter was signed by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington State Senators Don Benton (R-Vancouver), John Braun (R-Centralia), Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), Curtis King (R-Yakima), and Ann Rivers (R-Camas) and Washington State Representatives Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis), Norm Johnson (R-Yakima), Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama), Paul Harris (R-Vancouver), Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver), Liz Pike (R-Camas), Charles Ross (R-Naches), Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), Brandon Vick (R-Felida), and Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver). 

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is a new marketplace required by the 2010 federal health care law.  While the exchanges were promised to provide more competition and choices for consumers of health care, Commissioner Kreidler recently announced that only one single provider would be allowed to offer plans in Clark County until at least 2015.  No other county in the state has less than two providers, and every other county has a minimum of 24 plans from which to choose. 

In their letter, the officials urged Kreidler to work to offer individuals and families more choices than what will currently be offered before the new exchange launches on October 1. 

At the State level, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is supposed to be a marketplace where individuals and families can compare benefits and prices among multiple providers and choose insurance plans that best fit their needs and budgets,” the letter reads.  “It is well established that competition puts downward pressure on price and increases access, quality, service, and innovation in health careUnfortunately, due to the monopoly granted to a single provider, residents of Clark County will not have the same choices or competition in their region that the rest of the State will have.” 

The text of the entire letter follows, and the original letter can be found by clicking here.

Dear Commissioner Kreidler,

We are writing today to express our deep concern with the lack of options presented to residents of Clark County in your recent announcement about the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange).  While four health insurance companies were recently authorized to sell in the State based Exchange, those living in Clark County will be required to purchase health care from a single provider.  Every county in the State has at least two insurance companies from which to choose, except Clark County.  Individuals and families in this region deserve better, and we are respectfully requesting that you work to offer residents here more choices for health care coverage by the time the exchange opens. 

It was promised that the 2010 federal health care law would provide competition through its Health Benefit Exchanges.  At the State level, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is supposed to be a marketplace where individuals and families can compare benefits and prices among multiple providers and choose insurance plans that best fit their needs and budgets.  It is well established that competition puts downward pressure on price and increases access, quality, service, and innovation in health care.  Unfortunately, due to the monopoly granted to a single provider, residents of Clark County will not have the same choices or competition in their region that the rest of the State will have.  

Rather than offering improvement in terms of health care choice, access to care, or affordability for residents here, this development seems to be a step backward. 

As you know, open enrollment for the Exchange begins October 1, 2013.  We urge you to consider the lack of options for residents of Clark County and find a solution that provides them with more choices by that date.

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