New law offers free or discounted hospital care to 4 million Washingtonians

Monday, July 4, 2022

Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Starting July 1, 2022, 4 million Washingtonians will qualify for free or discounted care at hospitals across Washington as a result of legislation requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The legislation requires large hospital systems to provide more financial assistance. Beginning July 1, approximately half of all Washingtonians will be eligible for free or reduced-cost care at hospitals that represent approximately 80 percent of the licensed beds in the state.

Ferguson worked with prime sponsor Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, and Reps. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, and Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, on HB 1616 to strengthen Washington’s charity care law. 46th LD representatives Valdez and Pollit signed on as cosponsors, as did 32nd LD rep Lauren Davis.

Ferguson’s Attorney General request legislation expands charity care eligibility to more than 1 million Washingtonians, and guarantees free hospital care to an additional million Washingtonians who are currently eligible for discounted care.

“This is a landmark achievement for affordable health care,” Ferguson said. “Too many Washingtonians are just one hospital bill away from financial crisis. Our new law moves us away from a system where a single mom working two minimum wage jobs didn’t qualify for any help with her hospital bills, to something that offers help to about half the people in Washington. 
"It’s the right thing to do. Make sure you know what kind of assistance you qualify for, and if you aren’t getting it, contact my office.”

Ferguson’s and Simmons’ legislation establishes two tiers of financial assistance — one for large health care systems and another for smaller, independent hospitals. The new law gives Washington the strongest protections in the country for out-of-pocket hospital costs.

Nationwide, about two-thirds of individuals who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor, and more than half of collection items on credit reports are for medical debts.

Access to care is also an equity issue, as communities of color are disproportionately underinsured, and especially vulnerable to catastrophic and unexpected medical expenses.

More information here


Just My Opinion July 5, 2022 at 5:03 PM  

hurray for Bob and his team!

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