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We are fighting for measures to make medical treatment, ground ambulance services, and health insurance more affordable.

Policies We Are Supporting

There isn’t one solution to fixing our health care system.
That’s why we need a multi-pronged approach

Increasing Oversight to Lower Health Care Costs 

With significant support during the legislative session from Fair Health Prices WA allies, this bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 14, 2024. The new law makes several improvements to the state’s existing Health Care Cost Transparency Board (Board), charged with setting a statewide health care spending benchmark. It requires the Board to add new members to its advisory committee to represent the interests of consumers, insurer/payers, and labor, and in developing the state benchmark, the Board must now:

  • analyze the impact of cost drivers on health care spending;
  • consider provider and payer profits, assets, accumulated surpluses, reservices, and investment income; and
  • factor in utilization trends and demographic changes.

Improve Ground Ambulance Billing Practices

A new law prohibiting “surprise” balance billing by ground ambulance companies passed the Washington legislature by a near unanimous vote and was signed by Governor Inslee on March 19, 2024. This law removed a loophole that allowed ground ambulances to go after patients for the difference between the ambulance charges and what their insurance covered. An Office of the Insurance Commissioner Workgroup found that the average balance bill for an ambulance was $500 for emergencies and $1,000 for non-emergencies. Under the new law, ambulance companies are restricted in how much they can charge and patients only have to pay what their insurance requires, such as a copy or deductible.

  • Washington is the 16th state to pass a law banning ground ambulance bills and limiting the amount that can be charged. More states are adding protections against big ambulance bills, Axios, March 27, 2024.
  • In 2022, the legislature directed the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to convene a work group to recommend how to prevent surprise bills for ground ambulance services. The work group’s report issued in October 2023 includes several recommendations that are included in this bill.

improving Accountability Through Fair Contract Negotiations

This bill would restrict big consolidated health systems from anti-competitive bargaining when they negotiate pay rates, to make sure there’s a level playing field that rewards higher-quality, lower-priced providers. This bill attracted significant media attention and educated lawmakers and the public about the unfair contracting that occurs between insurers and providers. While the bill didn’t pass in the 2023 session, the budget directed the Attorney General and Office of the Insurance Commissioner to study the effectiveness of provider price or rate regulation strategies used in other states.

Preventing anticompetitive mergers 

The Keep Our Care Act would improve state advance review of proposed health system mergers and consolidations to ensure that affordable care continues and the needs of marginalized communities are considered. While the bill was ultimately unsuccessful in the 2023 session, a portion of the state budget will be used by the Attorney General and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to examine policies to address horizontal and vertical integration of health care entities.