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Inslee, health care leaders meet in preparation for health care reforms

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was joined by state and federal health care leaders and a coalition of more than 100 local organizations on July 16 for the "Coverage is Here" enrollment summit.

According to the governor's office, the summit resulted in a "plan to educate Washington residents about new opportunities for health care coverage under Medicaid expansion and Washington's health benefit exchange."

"A healthy state has healthy families, and healthy families have health care coverage. Today's (July 16) Coverage Is Here enrollment summit marks the be inning of an intense effort over the next several months to educate all communities across Washington about health reform and to help people enroll in a health plan that best fits their need and their budget," said the governor. "It won't be easy - it's going to take a broad coalition to meet this challenge because this isn't just about healthier families. It's about a healthier economy, too. Our state will save an estimated $280 million by the end of 2015, and add 10,000 new jobs as a result of the coming he alt care reform changes."

With the upcoming implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and associated reforms to Medicaid, large swaths of Washington residents will be eligible for insurance, according to Dorothy Teeter, director of the state's Health Care Authority.

"We anticipate adding more than 300,000 new clients to the 1.2 million current Medicaid caseload in the first years of health care reform," Teeter noted.

Much of the summit was spent with leaders like Inslee and others brainstorming with representatives from local hospitals, clinics, regional public health offices, health care providers, community-based organizations and health insurers. The summit was spent "shar(ing) best practices for targeting and reaching underserved populations and strategies for effective outreach to a wide range of populations."

State insurance commissioner Mike Kriedler noted the monumental task that's been in front of his agency in preparing for the massive overhauls in health care and insurance.

"Making sure all of the health plans include the new reforms and that they're ready to enroll individuals and families, starting Oct. 1, has been a daunting task," said Kriedler. "All health plans and their rates must be approved by July 31. After that, our focus shifts to educating the hundreds of thousands of people who stand to benefit from reform. Our efforts…will lay the groundwork for the weeks to come."

"Nearly 1 million uninsured Washingtonians stand to gain health insurance through our efforts and more than half of them could qualify for free or low-cost health insurance or financial help paying for premiums and co-pays. Enrolling everyone will take an all-hands-on-deck effort. (The summit) is the first step," Inslee added.

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