As Washington state voters, we can be proud of our legislators in Olympia for their hard work and dedication to the task of setting up our Health Care Exchange. As a result of their diligence, our state is one of the most prepared for the inclusive changes that will take place in January 2014.
But unless legislators implement full expansion of the Medicaid program — an expansion that will be federally funded for the first three years — the Affordable Care Act will not be as inclusive as intended. Without Medicaid expansion, approximately 250,000 low-income adults in Washington will have no health insurance and no way to pay for it.
Increased access to care, especially for a population at higher risk for cancer, will help detect the disease earlier, when there are more treatment options and better outcomes. As a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, I look at health care issues through the cancer lens – advocating for laws and policies that will benefit cancer patients and survivors. Medicaid expansion is a critical step in preventing and treating cancer. If we don’t provide this expanded coverage, there will be a big gap into which the neediest will fall. The consequences will be costly for all.
State legislators must vote to expand the state’s Medicaid coverage to include those among us who are most vulnerable. The good news is that while it is the right thing to do, this expansion also makes good fiscal sense.