Executive Constantine announces continued commitment to health care priorities as Congress debates rollback

As shared from the DCHS Touching Base Newsletter 

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“I will fight to protect families and ensure access to care.” – King County Executive Dow Constantine

The people of King County benefitted dramatically from the expansion of health insurance and other reforms under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and a repeal without a comparable replacement threatens widespread damage to the region’s health and economic well-being.

More than 200,000 people access health care in King County through the ACA, including many people now eligible for Medicaid coverage under Medicaid expansion.

That has made health and behavioral health care possible when treatment and other services were previously out of reach.

But that coverage could be in jeopardy if the new administration and Congress move forward with threats to repeal or significantly roll back the ACA. King County Executive Dow Constantine held a news conference in Seattle on Jan. 23 to draw attention to all that could be lost for individuals, families and our community.

“I will fight to protect families and ensure access to care. I will make sure Congress and the new president understand what’s at stake for our residents. And our public health and human services and community partners will do everything in their power to prevent people from suddenly being left without care,” said Constantine at the news conference.

In the past four years in King County:

  • The number of uninsured working-age adults has dropped by 54 percent since 2013, to just 7.7 percent, the lowest level ever recorded.
  • The uninsured rate for children has also reached an historic low of 1.6 percent.
  • The uninsured rate for African Americans dropped by nearly two-thirds, from 27 percent to 10 percent.
Pictured Jim Vollendroff, BHRD Director, responds to questions about behavioral health care.

Pictured Jim Vollendroff, BHRD Director, responds to questions about behavioral health care.

In addition to those who may lose Medicaid coverage, many more in King County would be at risk if Congress does not maintain the ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep adult children on family health plans until age 26. Removing these and the core requirement that everyone participate in insurance could result in a “death spiral” in the insurance market, impacting not only those who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act but also the broader population.

These items will be at the top of King County’s federal legislative agenda that Executive Constantine and the Council take to Washington, D.C., in April. More information is available here.

To learn more about what DCHS is doing in our community, read the most recent issue of the Touching Base Newsletter(on SharePoint).