This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
It shouldn’t need pointing out, but this is hardly the time for lawmakers to be squeezing another benefit into health plans that hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians already can’t afford.
State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, has the best of intentions. He proposes to require all state-regulated health policies to cover smoking-cessation treatment, including at least two cessation courses a year and coverage for over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
The idea is to curb the enormous health care costs that tobacco inflicts on society and help the smokers themselves escape an addiction that often leads to horrifying diseases and death.
The problem is doing it in the midst of the worst economic distress in generations.
As mandates go, this is one of the better proposals out there. But it’s part of a much larger context: Washington already mandates more treatments for more classes of people by more kinds of professionals than the vast majority of states.
Mandates always mean that people who would never use particular benefits – the services of naturopaths, midwives or massage therapists, for example – are required to help pay for others’ use of those benefits.
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