by Aubrey Davis
From the Seattle Times: TWENTY years ago, Washington created the Basic Health Plan (BHP) to provide reasonable health care for people who work for employers that do not offer them insurance and do not pay enough for them to afford to buy individual coverage on the market. The BHP is partly financed by income-adjusted premiums paid by participants, and since 2002, partly by a voter-approved tax on cigarettes.
Today, facing a massive revenue shortfall thanks to the recession, lawmakers are weighing whether to shut down the BHP entirely. The consequences of doing so were vividly described by Times reporter Carol Ostrom’s story [“Amid budget crisis, hard health-care decisions: Where to cut?” Jan 13]. The loss would not only threaten people’s health, but their very lives. And it would eliminate a program that will be fundamental for the state’s participation in national health-care reform in 2014.
The irony is that the BHP, while financed by direct-user payments and a voter-approved tax, faces closure. Meanwhile, our state is forgoing billions in tax revenue through hundreds of corporate tax loopholes and exemptions that voters never approved in the first place, and that haven’t been seriously re-examined since.