Kent senator says state's economy benefits from Obamacare
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
December 3, 2012 · 10:57 AM
A report from State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, shows that tens of millions of dollars have been pumped into Washington state’s economy over the last two years as state healthcare leaders have aggressively pursued financial assistance to help implement reforms known as Obamacare.
Generous grants to University of Washington medical and health programs, medical professionals, community health clinics, local businesses, and the state now total nearly $400 million, according to a Nov. 28 media release from Keiser.
“The economic story of healthcare reform has not yet been told,” said Keiser, chair of the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee. “Our difficult state budget situation would be more dire without the economic stimulus and savings Obamacare has and will bring.”
Some of the notable federal grants include:
• Large employers, including the Alaska Air Group, Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, Washington state, and a number of Taft Hartley trusts, have received nearly $24 million in reinsurance payments — which encourage employers to provide health coverage for retirees. All companies have saved millions of dollars in retiree health insurance costs
• Doctors, clinics and hospitals have received $109 million in grants to install electronic medical records (EMRs); EMRs are more efficient and provide safer patient care
• Colleges and universities have received $18 million in grants for job training for healthcare professionals
• Washington state’s benefit exchange, the Healthplanfinder, received $23 million the first year plus $128 million the second year for set-up and operation
• Washington’s senior citizens who have reached the “donut hole” in prescription coverage under Medicare have saved $79 million, including $250 rebates
• Community health centers and tribal clinics received nearly $68 million to provide health care to low-income residents
Keiser said the next phase of health reform, Medicaid expansion, will save millions of taxpayer dollars now spent on state-funded health programs. Washington’s state and local savings are estimated to be at least $100 million annually beginning in 2014. Expanded Obamacare also will create approximately 100,000 local healthcare jobs.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.