WASHINGTON STATE HEALTH-CARE REFORMS
* The Health Services Act, passed in May, establishes a basic package of health-care benefits that will eventually cover all state residents.
* Employers and individuals will be required to purchase these benefits from Certified Health Plans. The state will set up some CHPs, and private-sector health insurers can become certified. CHPs must accept everyone regardless of health status.
* To control soaring costs, a five-member Health Services Commission will establish a cap on the premiums CHPs can charge and will bring the growth of premiums in line with general inflation.
* An "individual mandate" requires all residents to obtain health insurance by 1999. The state will expand its Medicaid program to help low-income individuals.
* An "employer mandate" requires all employers to pay at least half the premiums for employees and their dependents, starting with firms of 500 or more workers in 1995. The state plans to assist some hard-hit firms of 25 or fewer employees.
* Taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and the health-care industry are being raised to pay for the program.