Wash. Gov. Debate: Candidates Spar On Healthcare

Jun 12, 2012

The two men vying to be Washington’s next governor squared off Tuesday.

Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna fielded questions about jobs and the economy. But the opening question was about healthcare.

The question was directed at McKenna. If the Supreme Court overturns the national healthcare law, what would he do to cover more than a million residents who now have no health insurance?

As attorney general, McKenna joined 25 other states to challenge the national health care law.

McKenna said he would make sure the state moves forward with its health insurance exchange. The exchange is a place where people can compare and shop for health insurance. He says the key is to encourage competition in the insurance market…

McKenna: “We need a market which is national, not just limited to our state. We need to go to a place where one day, you’ll see the gecko selling health insurance on TV. That means we will have arrived at a national market.”

Mckenna says people will also be able to get care under Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for the poor. He says congress is committed to expanding that program.

But former Congressman Jay Inslee doubts that federal support will be there…

Inslee: “The sad fact is, if the bill is overturned, we cannot look for assistance from Uncle Sam. We will have to make decisions on our own.”

Washington is like many states in financial straits. Part of the strain is coming from health care spending. Medicaid enrollment has grown, so have health costs. Overall state spending on Medicaid jumped by 20 percent this year.