Washington State Officials Forge Ahead with a Single-payer Working Group, Circumventing the Legislative Process

By ROGER STARK  | 
Jun 27, 2019
BLOG

This session, the Washington State House and Senate considered bills to form a working group to investigate establishing a single-payer, state-based health care system. (here) Neither bill passed out of its respective house. (here, here)

Yet, funding for the working group wound up in the final 2019-2020 budget. (here) The Health Care Authority recently sent out a Request for Qualifications and Quotations. (here) In other words, our elected officials declined to support the working group, but the budget writers essentially circumvented the legislative process and funded the group anyway.

The overall biennial budget for Washington state in 2019-2021 is $52.4 billion. The $500,000 allocated for the single-payer working group is obviously not a large percent of the budget, but it still represents half a million dollars of taxpayer money.

And to what end? Elected officials in Vermont realized at the eleventh hour that a popular single-payer system would add 35 percent to the state budget. It was not instituted. Colorado voters turned down a single-payer initiative when they learned of the astronomical cost. The California legislature has repeatedly voted down a state-based single-payer system because of a lack of a funding mechanism. (here)

Liberals in Washington state undoubtedly believe that there is something different about the Evergreen State that would convince taxpayers to give up health insurance they like and pay much more in taxes to support a government-run health care system.

The working group members can spend their own time on the committee meetings, but spending half a million of taxpayer dollars is irresponsible. Circumventing the legislature and simply funding the working group through the budget shows a real lack of respect for voters and for our legislative process.

A single-payer health care system is not popular with Americans when they realize that they would lose their current health insurance and would be forced into a government plan. (here) It becomes even less popular when Americans understand the enormous cost. It is foolish for Washington state officials to pursue a single-payer system, especially without the legislature taking a formal vote on it.