Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill putting the state on track to create the first ‘public option’ health insurance in the US, using a hybrid system that will see private insurers offer state-defined plans.

The measure signed Monday directs state health care authorities to hire one or more private insurers to offer a set of tiered plans by 2021.

Backers say the state-defined plans will be up to 10% cheaper than comparable private insurance thanks to a cap on rates paid to doctors and hospitals. But unlike existing government-managed plans like Medicare, Washington’s plans will be available for purchase without an income limit.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks before signing a measure that puts the state on track to create the first 'public option' health insurance in the US, Monday, May 13, 2019, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks before signing a measure that puts the state on track to create the first ‘public option’ health insurance in the US, Monday, May 13, 2019, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

Lawmakers in at least eight other states have proposed their own public option measures, but so far none have passed legislation implementing a public option according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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