The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View: The Affordable Care Act


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.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds

HeraldNet highlights

Unexpected strength
Unexpected strength: Monroe teen has 13 surgeries for flesh-eating bacteria
No longer alone
No longer alone: Lynnwood couple, 96 and 85, say it's never too late to wed
'Blood moon'
'Blood moon': Lunar eclipse delights, at least where skies are clear
Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (new photos)