Washington State Budget Proposal Limits Access to Healthcare

Washington state budget proposal would cut healthcare coverage for children throughout the state, including approximately $50 million for Seattle Children’s.

As Washington state works to develop its new biennial 2011-13 budget, it’s no surprise that difficult financial times are resulting in deep funding cuts to education, social services and healthcare.

Specific to healthcare, the budget proposal is slated to cut healthcare coverage for children throughout our state. Seattle Children’s alone could see funding cuts of approximately $50 million over the next two years.

For example, the new budget proposed by the state House and state Senate would cut millions of dollars by limiting access to our emergency department for kids covered by the Apple Health for Kids program. The budget would limit each child to three emergency department visits annually for services the state defines as "non emergencies." Other visits would be left unpaid by the state. Some of the services defined by the state as "non emergencies" are in fact potentially life-threatening emergencies like hernias, diabetic comas, and convulsions from high fevers.

In addition, the proposal introduced by the state Senate would impose additional out of pocket costs on low-income children covered by Apple Health for Kids, which would likely contribute to an increase in the number of uninsured children in Washington state. The House and Senate proposals will also increase the amount of uncompensated care Children's provides, currently greater than $100 million per year.

A recap of the government’s hospital related cuts can be found in a statement issued by the Washington State Hospital Association on the budget proposal: http://wsha.org/fiscalWatchDetails.cfm?EID=2011%2D04%2D05%2000%3A00%3A00%2E0&CT=&#article6322

The long-term impact of these cuts in children’s healthcare would be considerable. Children’s will do everything it can to prevent as many cuts as possible to protect children.

If you’re also interested in helping protect government funding for Washington state healthcare, please share your concerns by contacting your legislator. You can find your representatives (2 representatives, one senator) and their email addresses here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.