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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 14, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Children’s health care

The governor’s promise

Gov. Christine Gregoire won my vote in 2004 with her promise of universal health care for all children in Washington state by 2010. She locked in my 2008 vote in 2007 when she signed the Cover All Kids Bill. It was one of those rare moments when the hope that accompanies a daring pledge starts to feel like reality.

I understand our state faces daunting budget challenges. But stepping back on this promise is not the way to solve them [“Goal to insure all kids could fall to budget ax,” page one, Jan. 11].

We have a $5 billion deficit and the governor’s answer is to cut needy children from the state’s Basic Health Plan and limit access to those not yet covered? That’s no answer; it’s a shortsighted travesty that will make these hard times harder for everyone.

Gregoire’s proposal to ax a quarter of a billion dollars from the state’s insurance plan for low-income kids is not only a grievous breech of voter trust, it’s an unacceptable breech of leadership.

Leaving nearly 80,000 children uninsured in Washington will only serve to drive up insurance costs — for the state, for employers and for those of us who can still afford to pay for it privately — as more and more families turn to emergency rooms in lieu of low-cost primary care. It is the very definition of the phrase “penny smart, pound foolish.”

I understand the challenges of the current recession. But reneging on a promise to take care of our most valuable asset for a prosperous future, our kids, is disgraceful. Balancing any budget on the backs of the poor is unjust, especially in times of economic crisis. And especially when there are other, more just and equitable solutions.

The governor and our state lawmakers must consider all options. At the very least, before taking asthma medicine away from a child such as Sarah McIntyre, ask me, the voter, if I’d rather see the governor break her promise to kids or her no-tax stance.

— Cheryl Murfin, Seattle

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