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New universal healthcare proposal for Washington state

Last year, a group of citizens tried to get universal health care on the Washington ballot, but came up short on signatures. Now, a state senator is putting a new proposal up for consideration in the Legislature.

“It tries to make sure everyone gets coverage, which is not happening right now,” said Democratic Senator Bob Hasegawa. “There are people who are not being insured, but even with insurance coverage, people are being forced into crippling debt. So this is an attempt to stabilize the health care system and makes sure everyone is covered and can do it affordably.”

RELATED: How Inslee plans to pay for Cascade Care
RELATED: Cascade Care proposed for Washington

Hasegawa has introduced Senate Bill 5222 which will create something called the Whole Washington Health Trust. It would be run by a nine-member board of trustees appointed by the governor. He says the bill requires that the trust provide “minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act.” Residents with incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level would not be subject to any premiums. And premiums would not be more than $200 a month.

The universal health care proposal is different than Governor Jay Inslee’s recently-announced Cascade Care proposal, which Hasegawa says is an incremental step toward universal health care. But the senator believes the governor’s proposal doesn’t go far enough. His bill will, but he admits that it is a long shot.

“There is a lot of money in the system that doesn’t want to see it happen,” he said.

The bill proposes to pay for the trust with a range of taxes, including a capital gains tax.

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