New Washington Budget Proposes Cuts to State Health Care

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In a new proposal that will slash the state budget by $1.65 billion, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire announces that, because finances are so bleak, severe cuts will have to be made in spending. The cuts include closing the state’s Basic Health Plan, a state-subsidized insurance for about 35,000 low-income people.

Gov Gregoire said, “We're at that critical point now where we could pull out of this dramatically, or we could slip into another recession.” Senate Ways and Means Chairman Ed Murray added, “There are no choices left.”

In addition to the State Health Plan, the budget cuts also reduce funding to education, social services, and prisons.

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Ms. Gregoire notes that the cuts she is proposing are just recommendations, but she has no choice but to make deep cuts or seek out more tax money. "This is what the cuts look like," she said. "We have to ask ourselves now: Do we want to look at alternatives of revenue — what might they be, and do we want to go there?" Legislators will meet to discuss the future of the Washington State budget on November 28th, 2011.

Basic Health is the Washington State-sponsored program providing low-cost health care coverage through private health plans. To be eligible, one must be a US Citizen (or qualified non-citizen) and a Washington State resident between 19 and 64 years old that is not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. Gross family income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Income Guidelines.

Open enrollment for the 2012 State Basic Health Plan is currently in progress through Friday, November 4th, however there is currently a waiting list for new applicants except in special circumstances, such as being a foster parent or personal care worker.

Source: The Seattle Times

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