news Washington state lawmakers tackle staggering health care cost hikes / Public News Service

Olympia lawmakers have introduced a number of measures to address one of the biggest problems facing Washington citizens: rising health care costs.

A November survey found that more than four in five people in the state are worried about whether they will be able to pay for health care in the future.

Jim Freeberg, executive director of the Patients Coalition in Washington, said the rising costs will affect the health decisions people make.

“People who can’t afford their medication skip doses or delay treatment simply because they’re so scared of receiving bills,” Freeberg observed. “We see cases like this all the time.”

The measures presented in this session will address costs on many fronts. This includes bills to address increasing health system mergers, bills to examine prescription drug prices, and bills to strengthen the powers of the Health Cost Transparency Commission created in 2020. is included.

Rising costs are also hurting businesses, said Bill Kramer, executive director of healthcare policy at Purchaser Business Group on Health. He noted that employers provide insurance to more than half of Americans, explaining that while providing insurance is valuable to employees, it is becoming less sustainable.

“Rising health care costs are putting pressure on hiring, wages and business investment, and are a real drag on the economy,” Kramer said.

One of the measures in Olympia is to reduce the power the large healthcare system has in negotiating prices with insurers.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, said the health care system would take an “all-or-nothing” approach in which providers would only contract a particular facility if they would contract all facilities in the state. said it may take or region.

“Depending on your location, it may not be the best or lowest cost option available,” Robinson said. “So they are basically using their market share to drive up healthcare costs.”

Robinson added that the Senate bill would limit non-competitive practices when negotiating prices.

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