(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Governor Inslee joined representatives from Washington Healthplanfinder and other health care advocates in Seattle to celebrate the success of Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange. Washington state has been a national leader from the start and finished with some of the highest enrollments in the entire country. Nationally, 8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the Exchange, and 35% of people signed up are under the age of 35. In Washington, 146,000 people signed up for coverage on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange and over 400,000 more received coverage through Apple Health.
The full text of Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared:
“Good afternoon! Thank you, Michael, for that kind introduction.
“What an exciting day.
“I am so proud to be here to celebrate the good work and success of Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange – also known as Washington Health Plan Finder.
“And if you’ve been paying attention since October 1, you know that Washington Health Plan Finder has been a national leader from the very start – And that we came into the home stretch with some of the highest enrollment counts in the entire country.
“And that’s because the Affordable Care Act is working.
“Last week, we watched as President Obama announced that 8 million Americans have signed up for coverage across the country.
“And now several reports have come out and show the number of uninsured are dropping, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
“In fact, RAND reports there is a net gain of 9.3 million Americans with health insurance.
“And Gallup is reporting that the number of uninsured is at its lowest point, ever.
“And here in our state -- where we expanded coverage of Medicaid to more working families and built our own Exchange -- the rate of uninsured is falling even faster.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come in the last four years since the Affordable Care Act became law.
“Before the ACA, health insurance companies could deny people coverage due to so-called pre-existing conditions—like diabetes or pregnancy. That’s right, pregnancy.
“Four years ago, insurance companies could legally discriminate against women—women often paid more for coverage than men, based on nothing more than gender.
“This law righted many of these wrongs.
“Thanks to the law, millions of Americans have received preventive services like mammograms or colonoscopies with no out-of-pocket costs.
“And now, many of our self-employed innovators and entrepreneurs have access to quality, affordable coverage – many of them for the very first time.
“This comes on top of the 3.1 million young Americans getting covered under their parents’ plan.
“And the nearly 8 million seniors, who are saving billion on prescription drugs through Medicare.
“It’s for all these reasons and more that I am so proud to highlight just how far we’ve come right here in Washington.
“And to remind anyone who might tell you differently that we aren’t going back!!
“We’re not going to let any Republican repeal this law and take health care away from millions of Americans.
“Certainly not here in our state – where more than 550,000 people now have access to new, free or low-cost health insurance, thanks to the Exchange.
“Not here where close to 150,000 people enrolled in private plans on Washington Health Plan Finder.
“The success didn’t just stop there.
“Apple Health hit its enrollment targets across the state, and even exceeded its enrollment goals from Yakima to Snohomish County.
“Putting all this data together we now know our state signed-up nearly one million residents since open enrollment began on October 1.
“That’s nothing short of amazing and much of that credit is due to the tireless work of the men and women who join me here today.
“To Governor Inslee, Exchange Director Onizuka and all of his staff, Apple Health, all of our state’s Navigators, and the countless volunteers and advocates who crisscrossed our state to ensure everyone had the opportunity to enroll..
“Thank you to you all.
“The work does not stop here.
“And I am proud to be your partner in the United States Senate.”