Washington budget provides $110 million for Exchange

OLYMPIA — With just over a day left before a government shutdown, the legislature passed a final budget on Monday evening. The Washington budget included $110 million in funding for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The funding level, and how it is allocated, is nearly identical to the House proposal released last week.

This final agreement comes after initial proposals from the Senate and House were nearly $40 million apart. While the funding level matched the House’s priorities, the Senate was able to add language requiring the Exchange to submit annual reports disclosing the salaries of Exchange employees, as well as monthly reports on expenditures. Reports must be provided to the Health Care Authority and the legislature. This reporting language is similar to the rewritten SB 6089, which also passed the legislature on Monday.

The $110 million consists of nearly $11 million in state general funds, $40 million in federal funds, and over $58 million in funds from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Account. The Exchange Account consists of revenues from the 2% premium tax and from the carrier assessment. As reported earlier, we estimate that in order to fulfill this appropriation, the Exchange will have to more than double its carrier assessment from $4.19 to $9.78.

The Governor will sign the budget later today.