SEATTLE — About 24,000 children in Washington state could lose their health insurance because their parents may not be able to afford health care premiums the state intends to charge, according to a report published Tuesday by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Faced with a nearly $3 billion hole in the state budget earlier this year, the Legislature and Gov. Gary Locke chose to charge premiums of $15 to $20 a month for families on Medicaid who make more than the federal poverty level. Those families currently pay no premiums or co-payments.
State officials said that would be better than raising taxes or cutting those Medicaid services entirely. If the federal government approves the state’s plan, the premiums would start in February.
Advocates for children in Washington state say those premiums could make health care unaffordable for many Washington families. They are urging the state to use $26 million in newly available federal health care money to prevent the premiums.
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