Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I encourage you to watch my latest video update where I discuss what I’ve been up to this last week, as well as information about the opposing firearm initiatives heard this week in the House:
Update on Obamacare
Many of you have contacted my office concerned about the implementation of Obamacare in our state. I share your concerns, especially after reading the news and hearing about website glitches, tax-credit mistakes, thousands of calls going unanswered at the state Health Benefit Exchange, cancellation notices, and sticker shock for Washingtonians. Obamacare has not been all that it was promised to be – though many of us were skeptical from the start.
While the governor has touted the great success of our state’s Health Benefit Exchange, he is basing this success on raw numbers on enrollments – most of these are for people getting on Medicaid. The deeper numbers tell a different story. It was originally estimated that 130,000 people would enroll in a non-Medicaid plan by Jan. 1. However, just 73,098 people have enrolled in such plans. Of those, just 23 percent purchased a full-price health plan that will not be subsidized by taxpayers. These are alarming numbers for a system that was meant to reduce costs for all based on a large number of healthy, full-paying individuals enrolling in non-Medicaid plans.
Though this is something put on us by the federal government, our state is still responsible for how things are carried out here. That’s why I’m supporting two measures here at the state Legislature to allow Washington residents to purchase health plans across state lines. Though our state Insurance Commissioner will not allow residents to keep their previous plans, these bills would provide more choice and freedom for residents to find more affordable plans that meet their needs.
Voice your comments about land acquisitions
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting public comment through tomorrow, Jan. 31 on current proposals to acquire land for fish and wildlife habitat and public recreation. Thirteen proposed land acquisitions, identified by the department as priorities for potential future funding, are currently available for review. To review the proposed acquisitions and submit your comments, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/.
Keeping an eye on the drought situation
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, our state is currently in a moderate drought. We are more fortunate than our neighbors to the south, Oregon and California, who are facing severe and extreme drought. However, if we don’t get more snowpack and rainfall, this could have serious consequences for junior water right holders across our state. You can keep an eye on the drought through the USDA’s drought monitor online here. I serve on a special Legislative Workgroup on Water Supply During Drought that meets when our state is in a drought, to determine what actions to take and keep tabs on how water restrictions are taking place. Fortunately, we have not met since 2010. I am hopeful we will not have to meet this year and that the weather will provide us with the water we need, especially in Central and Eastern Washington.
As always, I appreciate hearing from the people back home. Please feel free to contact me with questions, comments and concerns. It’s an honor to serve as your state representative.