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Obama Plan a Possible Prescription for WA Healthcare Cuts?

January 21, 2009

Seattle, WA – They say it could be a light at the end of the tunnel for health programs all across Washington State. President Barack Obama is making major increases in health care spending a building block of his economic recovery plan, and that could change the budget picture in Olympia.

Governor Chris Gregoire's budget currently includes hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to health care programs. But Adam Glickman with the Service Employees International Union says the major increases Obama is proposing should mean local cuts won't have to be so drastic.

"From what we've seen of the House recovery package, if all the money that's supposed to go towards health care is actually used for health care programs, it could go a long way towards preventing or alleviating major cuts to health care."

Critics says Obama's plan will increase spending but won't stimulate the economy.

Glickman says the Senate still has to come up with its own health care funding numbers. Both chambers hope to reach agreement on the recovery plan by mid-February.

Glickman says that without the federal funding that could soon be coming to Washington State, tens of thousands of working adults and their children could lose coverage.

"All that's going to do is force us deeper into recession; it's going to cut health care jobs, force working families deeper into poverty. So we think that an increase in federal funding for health care is essential as part of an economic recovery package."

A recent Kaiser Foundation poll found Americans ranked reforming health care as a top priority, coming third after fixing the economy and fighting terrorism.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA