OLYMPIA — A bill to protect retired public employees’ access to health insurance unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday. 

Senate Bill 5696, sponsored by Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), ensures retirees can continue to participate in insurance plans provided under Public Employees’ Benefits Board. 

Right now, if a local government terminates its contract with the state Health Care Authority to provide benefits to employees under PEBB, the retiree becomes ineligible for coverage — the bill would remedy that if passed. A recent merger between Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County left dozens of retirees without access to health insurance. 

“Our public retirees have worked hard throughout their lives and deserve to enjoy their retirement without the stress of financial uncertainty. Health insurance is a critical component of ensuring they can afford the medical care they need to stay healthy and happy,” Robinson said. “This is a simple but meaningful way to honor their contributions to our communities and show our gratitude for all they’ve done.” 

The legislation now heads to the House. Follow its progress here.