Gov. Jay Inslee unveils health-care agenda

Staff writerJanuary 9, 2014 

Gov. Jay Inslee's biggest victory in his first year was probably the Legislature's quick embrace of the expanded Medicaid coverage in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

As he starts his second year, the Democratic governor is again hoping to convince the Legislature to address health care.

His most ambitious goal this time is to gradually integrate treatment of mental and physical health under Medicaid, as part of a plan that would also open the door for private insurance companies to compete for mental health contracts that now go mostly to local governments. Our story from last month explains why and how.

On Wednesday, Inslee touted that goal at a health-care conference in SeaTac, while also previewing two other agenda items.

One is to set performance measures for state purchasing of health care and to compile data on insurance companies' costs to allow for better comparison by buyers. A full picture would require voluntary participation from insurers.

"If we do this we're going to lead the world in cost containment, but it's going to take a mutual joining of interests here," Inslee told the crowd.

His other proposal targets children's obesity and would lead to revised health and fitness standards for schools. It would also deploy experts in state government to work with K-12 schools, preschools and maternity-care programs, encouraging healthful practices such as breast feeding.

"Our children are exposed to kind of a triple whammy of lack of physical exercise, more toxins, and a lack of access to good, nutritional, wholesome food," Inslee said.

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