MYNORTHWEST POLITICS

State Senate approves health coverage assistance during labor disputes

Feb 2, 2024, 4:51 PM

health coverage assistance...

UPS workers on strike (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Along a party line 30-19, Democrats in the Washington State Legislature passed Engrossed Senate Bill 5632, which allows striking workers access to subsidized health insurance through the state’s Health Benefit Exchange to administer a worker health plan access assistance program.

This program aims to provide support to employees who lose their employer-provided healthcare coverage due to active labor disputes, such as strikes or lockouts.

The bill’s sponsor Senator Karen Kieser, D-Des Moines, said it will provide a safety net to people who have no access to any other health insurance.

More from WA Legislature: Push for permanent standard time in WA fails to clear legislature

“This does not require the state to pay for the health insurance, it allows the Health Benefit Exchange to have an open enrollment time for an individual for an individual who is on strike,” Kieser said just before the Senate took the vote on Friday.

Starting January 1, 2025, the Health Benefit Exchange will be responsible for implementing and managing a worker health plan access assistance program for Washingtonians affected by labor disputes.

Individuals would have to “self-attest” regarding the loss of health care coverage because of a labor dispute.

“When an employee decides to support a strike, there should be consequences with that,” Republican Senator Curtis King said.

All 19 Republicans voted no.

“We shouldn’t be offering benefits to have this kind of care,” King said. “We are just incentivizing in some respects to go out on strike.”

More from Matt Markovich: Pilot program to provide free rent to low-income residents could cost the state $251 million

Participants must be ineligible for minimum essential coverage through Medicare, a federal or state medical assistance program administered by the Health Care Authority. Eligibility also extends to those who are eligible to purchase a qualified health plan through the Health Benefit Exchange.

The implementation of this legislation is contingent upon the availability of state funding specifically appropriated for this purpose. So far, funding has not been approved.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

MyNorthwest Politics

seattle police...

Frank Sumrall

‘SPD is dying’: What Seattle police officers are saying during exit interviews

When asked what had a negative effect on morale in their exit interviews, Seattle police officers were nearly united in their responses.

2 hours ago

Semi Bird...

Bill Kaczaraba

Semi Bird wins endorsement for governor from state GOP

Republican candidate for governor Semi Bird has won the endorsement of the GOP state convention on Saturday.

2 days ago

Washington State University (WSU) President Kirk Schulz, left, and his wife Noel Schulz speak durin...

Steve Coogan

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announces plan to retire in 2025

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announced his plan Friday to retire in June 2025. He has held the position since 2016.

3 days ago

ukraine israel u.s. aid...

Colleen O'Brien

Rep. Adam Smith: Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan ‘have waited way too long’ for U.S. aid

In a bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced a key foreign aid package affecting funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Friday.

3 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Todd Blanche appear at Manhattan criminal in Ne...

Associated Press

Police to review security outside courthouse hosting Trump trial after man sets himself on fire

Crews rushed away a person after fire was extinguished outside where jury selection was taking place in the Donald Trump criminal trial.

3 days ago

Photo: Then-Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., speaks on Nov. 6, 2018, at a Republican party election nig...

Bill Kaczaraba

Boos, chaos at Washington GOP convention over gubernatorial candidate endorsement

The state GOP convention going on in Spokane is looking more like a demolition derby than a meeting of the minds.

5 days ago

State Senate approves health coverage assistance during labor disputes