OLYMPIA -- Governor Chris Gregoire signed a big state piece of the national Affordable Care Act into law at a Group Health clinic in Olympia Friday.
It's the state's Health Benefit Exchange bill, designed to provide a rating system of health plans, make it easier to switch between health insurance plans when changing employers, and allow an employee to keep the plan he or she is already on, even if moving on to a new job.
Each state is required under the federal law to have a Health Benefit Exchange Plan in place by January 1, 2014.
The signing by the governor comes two years after President Barack Obama signed the national Affordable Care Act into law.
But this coming week also marks huge potential setbacks for the what many now call "Obamacare." The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing arguments brought by a large number of states, including Washington, against requirements that individual people be forced to buy health insurance -- the so called "individual mandate."
Rallies are planned in Seattle and Tacoma Friday for people opposing the mandate on religious and moral grounds. Those critics are against being forced to buy medical coverage that includes contraceptives and abortion services and drugs.