House Democrats’ plan for cutting the current two-year budget would end state funding March 1 for the Basic Health Plan and the 66,000 people insured under it.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, the federal government will expand coverage to cover those same people as the health care bill kicks in.
What happens between those two dates is unclear. Businesses, and maybe voters, would be asked to help.
House Democrats are still trying to figure it out. But they hope to keep providing state-subsidized health insurance to otherwise uninsured adults.
“Parts of private industry here are interested in participating in the changes that occur with federal health care reform in 2014, and we’re trying to come up with a strategy that bridges some contributions in the short run, and potentially a referendum. We don’t know exactly where we’re going with that,” House budget chairman Ross Hunter told reporters.
Budget writers are working with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell to consider their options.
Asking voters to save the program by raising some kind of new revenue for the state is a possibility, but Hunter didn’t have details. “If we can get there, and that makes sense to do a referendum around the Basic Health Plan, that’s where we’ll get to,” he said.