Cantwell, Murray among critics of Trump’s executive order

Herrera Beutler says plan could reduce health care costs for Washington residents

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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Washington’s congressional delegation and state insurance commissioner had mostly criticisms of President Donald Trump’s executive order regarding health insurance.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the policy almost guarantees the eventual collapse of the U.S. health insurance market.

“The executive order President Trump issued today proposes misguided and simplistic solutions to fix a complex problem — the growing costs of health care,” Kreidler said in a press release. “The ideas he’s proposing sound very populist. It seems reasonable to allow small employers to band together for the purpose of buying health insurance. It seems reasonable to let people buy short-term medical plans that offer fewer benefits at a lower cost.”

The reality, Kreidler said, is the approach ignores how insurance works.

“The basic principle behind insurance is the more people you cover, the lower everyone’s costs,” he said. “Trump’s executive order will allow healthier and younger people to pick skimpier, cheaper coverage, leaving the older and the sick to pay much more. This may lower some people’s costs in the short term — as long as they don’t get sick.”

Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both Democrats, quickly voiced their displeasure.

“President Trump should not try to open the door to junk insurance. Cutting essential benefits out of health insurance puts patients at risk of having no coverage for basics like hospitalizations and prescription drugs,” Cantwell said in a press release. “The president should instead work across the aisle to drive down costs and increase access through state bundling options — like Basic Health Plans — and delivery system reforms.”

Murray called the policy the “latest and worst” in a yearlong effort to create “Trumpcare.”

“They will force patients across the country to pay more for their care, lose quality coverage options, and find themselves with surprise medical bills when they can least afford it,” Murray said in a press release. “The president has made a lot of promises to families about their health care, and if he truly wants to keep them, he’ll stop trying to create Trumpcare by sabotage, accept that repeal is off the table, and support Congress in getting our work done for patients and families.”

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, said if implemented correctly, Trump’s plan could reduce health care costs for Washingtonians.

“Unfortunately, supporting small businesses who want to provide health coverage for employees is one of the greatest areas of failure under the Affordable Care Act; the Obamacare small business exchange operated by Washington state only insures 164 people across all of Washington,” Herrera Beutler said in a press release. “There is no reason why small businesses shouldn’t be able to band together and offer employees the same types of quality health care plans as labor unions and large corporations do, and I will be eagerly monitoring how this executive order is implemented and will help however I can to make sure it is successful here in Southwest Washington.”