For Medicaid expansion

The Affordable Care Act is titanic, a complex, far-reaching mandate that will reshape health care delivery in the United States. The promise of enhanced access and preventive care was the force that through Congress drove the Affordable Care Act’s passage. Now the parts fall together, and the Washington Legislature must act to secure Medicaid expansion.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court, in upholding the Affordable Care Act, ruled that states may determine separately whether to participate in Medicaid expansion. The move, which saves the state $225 million in the 2013-15 biennium, will allow 250,000 more Washington residents to receive health care. (That number will swell by an additional 100,000 by 2020.) Beneficiaries include the 20 percent to 29 percent of Snohomish County residents now uninsured. In less prosperous counties such as Clallam, Grays Harbor and Yakima, that figure is closer to 50 percent.

The centerpiece is preventive care, services that preempt or treat chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Cancer screenings, mental health services and vaccines all qualify as preventive care and all provide approaches to save the state and Washington families money.

Providers laboring in the trenches experience the consequences directly. Dr. Greg Sanders, a family physician and the clinical director of the Sea Mar Community Health Center in Marysville, treats mostly uninsured patients, many of whom would benefit from preventive medicine. As Sanders notes, a common-sense approach will save Washington time and money over the long-term. The message is echoed by Gustavo Ramos, Jr., an advocate for AARP whose public service career revolves around affordable housing. Baby boomers not yet eligible for Medicare (read: those 50 to 60 years old) are especially vulnerable if they’re laid off, disabled or providing for a dependent. Not surprisingly, the AARP supports full Medicaid expansion in every state.

Expansion is something of a misnomer. While services extend to the previously uninsured, including those currently eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid, the federal government is picking up the cost. In practice, state expenses would be higher if Washington opted out, and few states are giving that serious consideration. The $1 billion in federal funds in the first biennium will likely generate thousands of Washington jobs, even after factoring for state hospital reductions.

By 2020, the 100 percent federal funding level will drop to 90 percent, with Washington paying 10 cents for every dollar. Even then, expanded coverage will be a bargain, saving money, greater access, creating jobs. The Legislature should act quickly to ensure full Medicaid expansion.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, Dec. 3

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 31, 2020, file photo, Washington Army and Air National Guard soldiers confer in an operations room at Camp Murray, Wash. The state of Washington is calling in the National Guard to help process unemployment benefit claims as officials grapple with a backlog caused in part by a fraud ring that stole more than half a billion dollars in aid, officials said Thursday, June 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
Editorial: Take steps to make most of next jobless aid bill

State and federal authorities need to improve delivery of unemployment benefits for covid relief.

FILE - President Donald Trump gestures to moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News during the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29, 2020. Leaders of the Commission on Presidential Debates and moderators of all three debates gathered for a remote debrief Monday night. Two takeaways: increased early voting means the commission is considering earlier debates, and the mute button may be here to stay.  (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP, File)
Comment: How Fox News can stay relevant in post-Trump era

It doesn’t have to lean left but it can recommit itself to news coverage and sticking to the facts.

Comment: Compiling pandemic’s history accurately won’t be easy

Past attempts to document tragedy often made poor assumptions that kept alive existing inequities.

Kids are at risk of falling behind if school don’t reopen

The governor’s shutdown in response to covid-19 has reshaped our lives. Shifting… Continue reading

Very few good ideas coming from the right

I would like to comment on a recent letter to the editor… Continue reading

toon
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Dec. 2

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with imprinted RECEIVE, GIVE concept words
Editorial: We can meet increased need caused by covid

As GivingTuesday nears, consider how you can help nonprofits with the work they do in your community.

A latte is made at Narrative Coffee on Oct. 4, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Covid only upped need for Small Business Saturday

Locally owned businesses need your support to survive the pandemic. Here’s how to do so safely.

Most Read