State Senate OKs bill shifting some to health exchanges

OLYMPIA — The Senate has approved a measure that could shift thousands of part-time state employees and education workers into the state exchange that will be part of the federal health care overhaul.

The measure passed on a 25-23 vote Monday and now heads to the House for consideration. The Senate included the idea as part of its budget proposal, but the House did not.

Under the Washington state plan, which was proposed as a way to help deal with a $1.2 billion budget shortfall, the state would make policy changes and secure agreements in which part-time workers would get extra compensation but lose state health coverage. They would then be eligible to get health care in the federal plan, without any consequence for the state.

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