Opinion

Healthcare bill gives state more flexibility

I’m excited that national healthcare reform finally passed — not because that means our work is over, but because Washington state will get more freedom to innovate and more support from the other Washington.

What we do now will affect healthcare for decades. I think it’s important that we get it right.

Change can frighten people, so I understand why people who have health insurance might worry about reform.

But if you have health coverage and are happy with it, nothing will happen to you — except better consumer protections and the ability to cover your kids until they’re 26.

Healthcare costs are expected to grow another 71 percent in the next decade. If we do nothing, by 2019 the average family will pay $22,522 for health insurance.

Do you want to pay that much more simply to keep what you have today? I don’t.

We can do better.

Innovation is the smarter better option for Washington state.

For years, our state has led the way on healthcare reform. We created the Basic Health Plan and the Health Insurance Partnership, a prescription drug program for seniors and Apple Health to make sure every child — rich or poor — has health coverage.

Now we are free to innovate. National health care reform isn’t a top-down system.

It encourages each state to find new ways of providing better health care.

We should embrace this chance for real change.

The old model of getting your health coverage at work is dying. Only 62 percent of our state’s workers received health coverage in 2007.

Most — 70 percent — of people without health insurance have jobs.

They’re not unemployed or homeless.

They’re workers just like you and me, and the lack of health coverage is a hidden tax we all pay when uninsured families are forced into the emergency room.

Innovation and reform works. It’s worked for kids, with Washington state close to our goal of making sure every child has health care.

It’s worked for working families buying affordable health care on the Basic Health Plan.

We’re good at reform in Washington state.

The media makes it seem like the only question is how hard we should fight each other on healthcare and who this helps politically if they run for governor.

I think that’s a pointless distraction. Healthcare is serious. It’s not a political football.

Your health, and your family’s health, is priceless and irreplaceable.

What we need to talk about is how we can join together to find solutions.

We don’t need another manufactured fight for talk radio hosts. We need creative ways to solve the problems in healthcare that affect every business and every family in Washington state.

Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) works as a licensed nurse and is Chair of the Health Care and Wellness Committee.

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