Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Lawmaker describes different view of health care; Governor's goal to insure every child overlooks huge group of citizens, senator says"

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
OLYMPIA - Despite the governor's messages of progress in state health care reform, Washington residents between the ages of 19 and 34 may be paying too much for health care.

After Gov. Chris Gregoire's State of the State Address, 9th district Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, expressed a different view on the state of health care within Washington.

"As I go around to our families and our businesses, a huge concern is the rising cost of insurance," Schoesler said. "That's a major burden for people in our district."

Though the governor has set a goal to insure every child in the state by 2010, Schoesler said the governor is overlooking a huge group of uninsured citizens identified last year by the Blue Ribbon Commission.

The Commission's report in 2007 urged the state to change its approach on insuring residents between the ages of 19 and 34, as they constitute more than half of Washington's uninsured.

The governor should focus on cost restraint and creating insurance choices to support people within this age group, Schoesler said.

"Nineteen to 34-year-olds' financial means and needs are different than other people's," Schoesler said. "I have a 27-year-old daughter who wants a different health care plan than what her mom and I have."

Schoesler had a hard time grappling with Gregoire's supplemental budget. He said though Gregoire plans to save $1.2 billion of the state's money, Washington will still incur debt because of costly projects passed in previous sessions.

Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, was also unimpressed by the governor's savings plan.

"Sounds to me like we're going to spend at least $253 million," Hailey said and pointed out much of this money was slated for projects outside his district.

Like her segment on health care, Schoesler said most points the governor made during her speech were upbeat to boost her image for re-election purposes.

"It was the time-tested themes of environment, education and health care with absolutely no details about what she's actually planning to do," Schoesler said.

Both Hailey and Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, were grateful for the governor's time spent honoring veterans and those who helped in the southwest Washington floods.

Schmick, who is attending his first legislative session, said he felt honored by the festivities and kindness the governor displayed in her speech.

"I may not agree with everything she has to say, but that's why we're here to work on them," Schmick said.

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