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Washington Consumer Groups Take Aim at High Health Industry Prices

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A key bill aimed at reducing Washington’s high health care costs is making its way through the legislature. In last Wednesday’s House Health and Wellness Committee, lawmakers considered HB 1508, a measure to uncover the root causes of why health care prices are increasing for consumers each year and hold the industry accountable when prices are repeatedly out of line through the state’s Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HCCTB).  The HCCTB was created from legislation passed in 2020.

The effects of rising health care costs are undeniable. High deductibles and copays are a significant issue facing patients and HB 1508 would provide the means to better understand the problem, according to Sam Hatzenbeler, Senior Policy Associate at Economic Opportunity Institute. Hatzenbeler testified about a recent survey in Washington that indicated that “four out of five people reported that they were worried about affording health care and 62% said that they had had trouble paying for their care in the last twelve months. Meanwhile, large health systems and carriers continue to sit on massive reserves that in some cases are even larger than before the pandemic.” The bill would also require the HCCTB to evaluate how profit accumulation and nonprofit tax breaks contribute to state spending.

To continue this session, this bill must make it out of the House Health Care and Wellness committee by February 17th.

The measure to improve the HCCTB is among several policy proposals being supported by Fair Health Prices Washington, a new effort by patients, workers, and employers working together to
address high health care prices through evidence-based policy solutions.

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