As “Medicare for All” becomes the mantra of several candidates for president, all progressive Democrats, Washington State on Monday inaugurated its own version of a public option health insurance plan, based on expanding the qualifications for Medicaid to 500 percent of the federal poverty line, or $62,450 a year for a single person.
The agency running Medicaid for the state is being instructed to contract with a private insurer to offer a plan to meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). Those who qualify will be able to buy into the new state Medicaid option. The extent of state subsidies, if any, has yet to be announced.
Colorado has also passed legislation to create a public option, but it has yet to take effect. Other states are also looking into crafting their own versions, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Oregon. In 2017, Nevada was the first to pass enabling legislation for a state option, but Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the law.
Colorado is looking to finalize its plan by November.
Depending on how a state fashions its Medicaid option, it may need permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), whose administrator, Seema Verma, has lambasted “Medicare for all.”
Washington will avoid needing federal approval since it is contracting out its plan.
Both Washington and Colorado are completely Blue States, where both the statehouse and the legislature are controlled by Democrats.