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Originally published Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

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Editorial: Premera shrouds transparency

Legislation to give patients, providers, hospitals and purchasers basic consumer information on health-care costs was snuffed by Premera.

Seattle Times Editorial

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As reported by The Spokesman-Review, committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville... MORE
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WHY would the Washington state Senate oppose robust capitalism empowered by a vigorous, well-informed marketplace?

Amendments to E2SHB 2572 in the Senate Health Care Committee eviscerated legislation sought by patients, providers, hospitals and purchasers to give basic health price and quality information.

As reported by The Spokesman-Review, committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, stripped the bill of its most potent language, and then shipped it to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Premera Blue Cross cooed its approval of the action that denies consumers access to information to make better choices and help bring down health-care costs.

Health care transparency is all about providing consumers with access to information. Legislation to create such databases was endorsed by small business, Boeing, hospitals, doctors, nurses and the state insurance commissioner. Even some of the usual suspect critics stayed pointedly neutral.

In the absence of their own alternatives, some Republicans complained about the federal Affordable Care Act and how it did nothing to bring down costs. Here is local legislation to give purchasers and users of health insurance the information to do just that.

Remember the GOP chatter about health savings accounts and how consumers should call around to get the best medical deals? Virtual nonsense without access to actual price and quality data.

More than a dozen states make purchasing and health-care-delivery information available. Places such as that lefty hotbed of Utah.

So the state Senate is not willing to help small business or ordinary consumers. Well, how about getting better information on the insurance the state pays for? Good luck. Premera’s cozy deal with the Washington Education Association remains behind a wall of secrecy.

Where can insurance buyers — including the state — find the lowest cost and highest quality care? Apparently the state Senate is unwilling to help consumers and providers find the answer.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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