Series on Candidate Proposals: McKenna Spending Cap Would Slash Health Care
Yesterday we took a look at the negative impact gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s education plan would have on our economic recovery following a recession. In today’s analysis we show how such a plan would limit access to health care for families, children, seniors, and those with disabilities during an economic downturn.
We all hope that if we lose a job, experience a period of economic hardship, or become disabled, we will have the support to maintain our health. And we know that if we want our children to succeed in school and life, they must have access to health care. However, the spending cap outlined in McKenna’s education funding plan would dramatically cut health care for low-income Washingtonians.
McKenna’s plan calls for limiting all non-education investments to general population growth plus inflation. That may sound good on the surface. But, there are two problems with this approach.
First, Washington state’s population is aging, and older people tend to have more health problems and need more care. Second, we are committed to making sure that kids in Washington state have health insurance, not only because it’s the right thing to do for children and families in our state, but also because it’s the right thing to do for our future economy.
As the graph below shows, the growth in the number of people receiving health care services over the last three years far outpaced the growth of the general population. Between 2009 and 2010, the rise in the number of children accessing health care was eleven times greater than the rise in general population.
But, the McKenna plan ignores these realities and uses an arbitrary formula to cap spending well below what’s needed. As a result, the McKenna plan would force decision-makers to dramatically cut-off or limit health care for people when they need it the most. Under such a plan, we would fail to provide families with affordable health care during times of job loss and backslide on our commitment to cover all kids.
The health and well-being of Washingtonians is something we all value. Balancing the budget by sacrificing the health of families and children is not a plan for prosperity.