Basic Health Plan Budget
7:12 am
Wed January 19, 2011

House Democrats unveil plan to save basic health

These are uneasy times for the 56,000 Washingtonians on the Basic Health Plan. The state-subsidized health insurance program is tentatively slated to end March 1st. But House Democrats presented a Hail Mary proposal to possibly save it.

Washington's current two-year budget is still $600,000,000 out of whack. Finding hundreds of millions of dollars in savings between now and the end of the fiscal cycle in June is no easy task.

So both Governor Chris Gregoire and House Democrats propose to end state funding for the Basic Health Plan starting March 1st. But lawmakers aren't willing to give up just yet on the popular program.

House Budget Chair Ross Hunter says voters might be asked in November to approve a permanent funding source for Basic Health. In the meantime, they'd have to find temporary stop-gap dollars from foundations or elsewhere:

"That will have to be made with private contributions and if we can get there and that makes sense to do a referendum around the Basic Health Plan, that's where we will get to."

But Hunter says the idea of a November ballot measure is still very preliminary. Under the Democratic proposal, funding for Basic Health would also come from the federal government plus premiums and co-pays from clients.