Legislation passed today by the Senate will enable the state to explore ways to protect Washingtonians from reductions in minimum essential health care standards by the Trump administration.

Senate Bill 6084, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, directs the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to convene a task force to explore mechanisms for enforcing an individual mandate at the state level. The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requirement is being effectively eliminated at the federal level, a move expected to destabilize health insurance markets in states across the country.

“We can’t stand by and let the current administration in the other Washington roll back the gains we’ve made here in our state in expanding health care coverage,” Cleveland said. “The elimination of the individual mandate poses the single biggest threat to the stability of our health insurance market.”

Since Washington state does not levy an tax income, which is how the federal mandate is enforced, an alternative enforcement mechanism must be found at the state level.

“There is nothing so essential in life as good health, and nothing so fragile these days as people’s access to essential health care,” Cleveland said. “We must not allow people outside our state to push our health care standards backwards. By taking this action now, we can make sure our health insurance market remains stable despite the loss of the federal individual mandate and, more importantly, ensure that we put people and their health first.”