Rep. Reeves introduces “Fair Share Health Care” plan

At the end of January, Representative Kristine Reeves introduced the “Fair Share Health Care” plan — a bill aimed at ensuring that profitable, large employers pay their share of their employees’ health care costs.

The majority of Washingtonians receive their health insurance through employment or the employment of a family member. But, according to the bill,

“Some employers with adequate resources fail to offer affordable access to health care services to their employees in Washington state. This creates inappropriate competitive advantages for those employers and greatly increases the likelihood that their employees will not have access to affordable health care services or will receive health care services through publicly funded health care programs.”

HB 1518 aims to address this issue by requiring employers with 1,000 or more employees to submit a quarterly report to the Health Care Authority (HCA) detailing the number of their employees that are under the age of 65 and enrolled in Medicaid.

These employers would then need to pay an assessment for each of those employees, up to 100 percent of the cost of the HCA’s input to the employees’ health care coverage.

When it is cost-effective for the state, the HCA may require the employee to enroll in available employer-sponsored coverage.

The bill states that the legislature is neutral regarding whether employers choose to offer health care coverage to employees or if they choose to reimburse the state for health care service costs for their employees.

“Health care is a human right, and corporations that just received massive federal tax cuts should not be putting the cost of their employees’ health care on the tax payer’s dime,” stated Reeves following the introduction of her bill. “In America’s health care system, large, profitable businesses should be supplying everyone with equitable coverage – whether they work in an office or warehouse. Families who work one or more full time jobs should not have to worry about keeping their kids healthy.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness, but has yet to receive a public hearing date. The bill is facing a February 22 cut-off date to pass out of committee.