OLYMPIA — In a quest to save money, political leaders in Washington state are exploring a plan that would shift some government workers out of their current health plans and onto the insurance exchange developed under President Barack Obama's health care law.
Lawmakers believe the change, which could affect thousands of part-time state employees and education workers, would save the state $120 million over the next two years. It would consequently push more health care costs onto the federal government because many of the low-income workers would likely qualify for federal subsidies.
Washington state appears to be the first major government to seriously explore the possibility of pushing public employees into the exchange, but it probably won't be the last. Rick Johnson, who advises state and local governments on health care policy at the New York-based consulting firm Segal Company, said he expects it will be an option some state and local governments will explore in the years to come.