Twenty-eight percent of people below the age of 65 with incomes below, at, or near poverty do not have health coverage. Public policy and the private sector are failing to insure many low and moderate-income working families in Washington state.
The foundation is already in place for a solution to this growing gap in economic security for working people. The Washington State Basic Health Plan provides no frills health insurance to lowincome working families. However, the Basic Health Plan has been chronically underfunded so that thousands of people who qualify for and need this health insurance are unable to get it.
At the same time, the number of children and youth smokers has increased dramatically in the last ten years, and the cost of smoking related illness on health expenditures has reached $1.15 billion annually.
Initiative 773 proposes a $0.60 increase in the state cigarette tax as a funding source to expand health care coverage for the Basic Health Plan and as a proven way to decrease the number of people who smoke.
The revenues from the increased tax will:
- Fund 50,000 additional slots in the Basic Health Plan
- Fully fund the state’s tobacco control and prevention plan
- Reduce smoking, especially among young people
- Finance programs that reduce disease among low-income families.
Initiative 773 acknowledges and remedies the outstanding health access problems and health practices that predominately affect low-income families. A detailed analysis of the impacts of Initiative 773 shows that it would significantly improve the health of thousands of adults and children in Washington state.