This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
It helps to have friends in high places.
When President Obama signed the new health care reform package March 23, he was also – thanks to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell – throwing a lifeline to Washington’s 23-year-old effort to give medical insurance to the working poor.
That brave and pioneering effort is known as the Basic Health Plan. Originally conceived by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott when he was a member of the state Senate, it ultimately attracted broad Republican support. When the Legislature transformed it from a pilot project to a permanent program in 1993, the vote was unanimous in both House and Senate.
Considering that the BHP was a pricey social welfare program that captured no matching federal dollars, that unanimity was as close to a miracle as you find in state politics.
The reason for the bipartisan support is worth revisiting in the bitter national argument over the new federal law. GOP lawmakers originally bought into the Basic Health Plan because it reflected fundamental, traditional principles of personal responsibility.
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