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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

January 25, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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Gregoire proposes state steps out of two big social programs

Posted by Letters editor

Proposal has serious health consequences

For the second time, The Times editorial board has urged the Legislature to eliminate lifesaving health-care services, such as Disability Lifeline and the Basic Health plan [“Halfway measures won’t fix state’s budget deficit,” Opinion, Jan. 23].

Gov. Chris Gregoire, in presenting her all-cuts budget, stated that everyone will have to step up to fill in the gaps. I wonder who will provide medicine needed for those with diabetes or high blood pressure. The church? Their neighbors? Good corporate citizens?

Those are not realistic solutions. Low-income people will continue to go to community-health centers, whose resources are being stripped bare from the magnitude of health-care cuts, or will wait until their conditions are critical and then go to the emergency room.

Who will fill in the gap? Middle-class taxpayers will be hit when hospital costs are shifted to them. But in other cases, the gap won’t be filled, and many will suffer serious health consequences. We will pay one way or the other, but The Times’ proposal will cost us much more.

— Linda McVeigh, Seattle

Take from the most vulnerable last

In your editorial, you address the fact that drastic measures are needed to balance the state’s budget now and that more aggressive action will be necessary in the future.

For some reason, your editorial singles out eliminating the Basic Health Plan and Disability Lifeline, two programs that have been very effective at assisting thousands of low-income, sick and disabled Washington citizens who are at risk of homelessness, hunger and worsening illness if they lose access to state benefits.

Before targeting these social benefits that are so crucial to vulnerable children, adults and families in Washington, the Legislature and the people of Washington need to more aggressively consider a truly broad-based balanced approach: cutting tax loopholes, raising and creating taxes (wealthy citizens really do have more to spare during hard times and should ante up before one poor person loses medical or disability benefits.), and cutting programs that are not essential to struggling families — it’s better that a state park be closed than low-income people with MS in Washington be taken off medicine, allowing them to get worse and wind up in wheelchairs.

Let’s get our priorities straight. Take away from the poor, sick, disabled and vulnerable last.

— Eugene F. May, Seattle

Health care part of society’s infrastructure

Anyone thinking that reducing the size of state government by eliminating cost-effective health services will save taxpayers’ money is sadly mistaken. Wiping out the services provided by Disability Lifeline and Basic Health coverage, as The Seattle Times editorial board advocates, will actually result in more costs being shifted to the wallets of middle-class taxpayers, as care to the uninsured will be provided in the most expensive setting — hospitals.

Eliminating crucial, preventive services is terrible fiscal policy. Once eliminated, we will lose the ability needed to provide these pioneering, cost-saving services. Cuts like these will cost lives, so the Legislature is right to wait for a potentially better revenue forecast to make such a serious decision.

Health care is part of society’s infrastructure. It is in no one’s interest that anyone be denied preventive care and allowed to get sick. It is in no one’s interest that anyone be sick and be unable to get treatment. It affects us all.

— Helen Harte, Seattle

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