Washington state lawmakers looking to address staggering health care cost increases / Public News Service

Olympia lawmakers introduced a set of measures to address one of the biggest problems facing Washingtonians: rising health care costs.

Survey As of November, more than four in five people in the state were found concerned about the ability to afford health care in the future.

Increased costs are affecting the health decisions people make, said Jim Friborg, executive director of the Patient Coalition of Washington.

“It’s the people who can’t afford their medication, and so they skip doses, or they delay care, just because they’re so scared about getting the bill,” Friborg noted. “We only see cases like this all the time.”

The actions presented in this session will address costs on a number of fronts. They include bills to combat the growing number of Health system integrationcheck up Medication prices and strengthening authority Healthcare Cost Transparency Councilwhich was created in 2020.

The rising costs are hurting the business, too, said Bill Kramer, executive director of health care policy for Buyer’s Health Business Group. He noted that employers provide coverage to more than half of Americans and explained that providing coverage is valuable to employees, but is becoming less sustainable.

“High health care costs crowd out jobs, wages, and business investment, and are a real drag on the economy,” Kramer noted.

One can measure in Olympia reduce force Large healthcare systems have to negotiate rates with insurers.

Sen. John Robinson, D-Everett, one of the bill’s sponsors, said health care systems sometimes take an “all or nothing” approach where they say they will only contract with a particular facility if the providers contract with all facilities in a state or region.

“In some places, this may not be the best or least expensive option available,” Robinson noted. “So they are using their market share to drive up the cost of health care.”

Robinson added that the Senate bill would limit anti-competitive practices when negotiating prices. She has a public hearing in Olympia on Friday.

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