I think most can agree that our current health insurance system is broken. More than a million Washington residents now are uninsured, many more are underinsured, and each year, over a billion dollars is shifted to the premiums of those who have health insurance to pay for those who do not. And it gets worse every year.
The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010 already has helped many people in our state. Young people under age 26 now can stay on their parents' insurance policies. Lifetime caps on all insurance policies have been eliminated. Children under 18 years of age can no longer be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing condition, and a new program to provide coverage for those over 18 who have pre-existing conditions is saving lives.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I have been working hard to help create Washington's new Health Insurance Exchange, and ensure the availability of subsidies and expanded coverage that will make affordable health insurance coverage available to everyone in our state. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on whether to eliminate all or part of the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, we must continue our preparations for 2014 and make adjustments, if needed, after the Supreme Court announces its decision.
More up-to-date information on the status of health care reform in Washington state is on the Insurance Commissioner's Office website and at the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.