State officials celebrate Obamacare decision

SEATTLE — Washington state officials are celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday on the federal health care reform law, even though it doesn’t appear to directly affect the Washington exchange.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the court decision will ensure that millions of Americans continue to have access to health insurance they can afford.

“I’m relieved the court, again, saw fit to look past the political rhetoric and do what’s in the best interest of individuals and families who have finally found affordable health care,” Kreidler said in a statement.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said a different decision by the Supreme Court could have affected Washington, by starting a “death spiral” and undermining the Affordable Care Act.

He was one of 18 state attorneys general who filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that was decided Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert said the Supreme Court’s decision issued Thursday does not change the fact that the health care law is fundamentally flawed and hurts families and businesses.

“Premiums have increased, patients have lost access to their preferred doctors and hospitals, and workers have had their hours cut because of this fundamentally flawed law,” said the Republican congressman from Washington state.

Kreidler does not agree with Reichert’s assessment of health care reform, as it has developed in Washington state.

He believes the federal law has helped hold down health care insurance costs in Washington and recently said the proposed rate increases for next year — averaging just over 5 percent — are among the lowest he’s seen in years.

Health care reform combined with Washington’s decision to expand access to Medicaid has resulted in more than 730,000 Washington residents finding affordable care, including more than 300,000 who had been previously uninsured, Gov. Jay Inslee noted in his endorsement of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I hope that this clear and convincing decision will help put an end to the relentless and misguided efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s working. It’s constitutional,” Inslee said in a statement.

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