Re: “How to get to a balanced, sustainable state budget – with no gimmicks” (Viewpoint, 3-4).
It’s just plain contradictory that state Sens. Jim Kastama and Joseph Zarelli are calling for reform, as they did in their guest commentary, but also chose to eliminate the kind of reformed program our state should be protecting: Disability Lifeline.
This program provides essential health care access for people with disabilities to manage chronic conditions, maintain stability and get back on their feet. But more than just being a true lifeline for 20,000 of our most vulnerable, it saves the state millions of dollars each year.
A recent study also demonstrated lower rates of arrests, homelessness, hospital admission and inpatient psychiatric costs among Disability Lifeline enrollees. If the program is eliminated — as the Senate-passed budget would do — these savings will be lost. Costs would increase for the state as it struggled to manage this medically complex population.
I think legislators sometimes feel like they have to choose between sympathy and fiscal responsibility. With Disability Lifeline they can have both, and I hope they realize that before it’s too late.
(Elijah is a pharmacist with Community Health Care in Tacoma.)