AG unveils law to lower healthcare cost for millions of residents

Jul 1, 2022, 4:07 PM

Photo by Karen Ducey...

Photo by Karen Ducey

Starting today, a new law goes into effect that makes 4 million Washington residents eligible to receive free or discounted hospital care.

House Bill 1616 will expand charity care eligibility to an additional 1 million Washingtonians than those who qualified before.

The legislation requires larger hospital systems to provide more financial assistance, especially for low-income residents, who disproportionately tend to be BIPOC.

For example, according to 2019 data from the Federal Reserve, the median bank account balance for Black households is about $1,500, less than one-fifth of the median balance for white households, averaging approximately $8,200. The median account balance for Latino households is about $2,000.

According to the state attorney general’s office, about two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy nationwide say medical bills are the biggest reason, and more than half of collection items on credit reports are for medical debt.

Department of Health issues warning as hospitals overflow

“Too many Washingtonians are just one hospital bill away from a financial crisis,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a prepared statement. “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.”

The law ensures that everyone in our state within 300% of the federal poverty level, which is around $40,000 a year, is eligible for financial assistance

MyNorthwest News

Renton bus crash...

Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

Eight injured after bus crashes into Renton ravine

A bus driver suffered a medical emergency, crashing the bus into a ravine in Renton, injuring eight people on board.

3 hours ago

Photo: Police say a man reached for his chicken sandwich, flipping his car....

Bill Kaczaraba

Oops! Chicken sandwich causes car to flip in Vancouver, WA

It turned out to be a very bad day for a man who dropped his chicken sandwich in his car. He flipped his vehicle reaching for it.

3 hours ago

Actor Alec Baldwin reacts during his trial for involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 fatal shooting...

Associated Press

Case dismissed against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting of cinematographer

A nearly three-year legal saga for Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer ended Friday with the actor cleared of wrongdoing.

4 hours ago

Photo: KIRO Newsradio is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its "newsradio" format with a special ...

MyNorthwest Staff

KIRO celebrates 50th anniversary of ‘newsradio’ format with special alumni broadcast

KIRO Newsradio is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its "newsradio" format with a special broadcast featuring several prominent alumni.

16 hours ago

Photo: Police swarm Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood after shooting on July 3....

James Lynch

Police identify 2 girls who were with alleged Alderwood Mall shooter

There are new developments in last week's deadly shooting at Alderwood Mall. Jayda Woods-Johnson, 13, was killed.

17 hours ago

Photo: A sea lion pup at the Point Defiance Zoo bonds with its mother....

Julia Dallas

Sea lion pup earns her name at local zoo; another animal expecting

Woodland Park Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium both have news! Two animals are experiencing motherhood for the first time.

18 hours ago

AG unveils law to lower healthcare cost for millions of residents