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Health care advocates take to air waves today with pre-tax-campaign TV ads so voters will know how bad state budget is

Post by News Tribune Staff on April 8, 2009 at 11:26 am with No Comments »
April 8, 2009 11:26 am

I’ve got only sketchy info right now. At 11 a.m. today the coalition of health care worker unions, hospitals, clinics and maybe some others will be paying for television ads that, I’m told, are intended to bring more attention to the budget cuts that are in the offing.

The Washington State Hospital Association, whose members would take a pretty hefty cut of $300 million or more from reduced state reimbursement rates and from the state pulling back from providing health care coverage, is one of the main players. I’m not sure who else is still part of the coalition. Maybe the Washington Education Assocation, the 82,000-member union for the teachers. Surely the Service Employees International Union and at least its home care 775NW and nurses 1199 locals.

I image the Federation of State Employees and state Labor Council will come back to the fold once things are up and running, but last I heard they had pushed their chairs back away from the Big Table, and had put their hands in their pockets, figuratively speaking. (And I told think they were reaching for their wallets.)

I’m told the ads will air pretty broadly — KING, KONG, KCPQ, KOMO.

Of course, I won’t be anywhere near a regular TV, so if anyone sees them, let me know. The ads also are supposed to be posted on line soon, too.

The coalstion, of course, has been sticking its collective toe in the water to see what sorts of temporary tax increases voters might support to stave off even deeper cuts to education and health care programs funded by the state.

The state faces a $9 billion shortfall over the next 27 months. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn by April 26, so there isn’t much time for lawmakers to put together a referendum for the ballot in November.

UPDATE: (11:34 a.m.) Here’s the news release from the coalition. Notice at the bottom there are no education groups, only health care groups.

Coalition Launches Major TV Ad Campaign on Proposed Health Care Cuts;

Olympia proposals to slash health care funding by more than $1 billion will severely impact quality of care for families across Washington State

Seattle – Today, a coalition of Washington State health care organizations joined forces to alert the public through a television advertising campaign about pending proposals in Olympia to slash health care funding in the current state budget by more than $1 billion.

"What Olympia is proposing should alarm families across Washington State. The proposed health care cuts just go too far, and will damage hospitals’ ability to provide the quality treatment that all our patients deserve," said Cassie Sauer, vice president of the Washington State Hospital Association. "The public is aware that our state is facing a budget crunch, but they need to know just how deep the cuts go and how severely families will be impacted across our state."

The 30-second ad, which will run for at least one week, will run on multiple stations in the Seattle-Tacoma media market. The coalition includes the Washington State Hospital Association, the Community Health Network of Washington, SEIU Healthcare 775, and many other health care organizations.

"If the proposed budget cuts are allowed to stand, at least 45,000 people will lose their health insurance, and with reduced staffing levels at our hospitals and clinics, many more people will lose access to timely care—the quality of care for all Washington State residents will decline," said Rebecca Kavoussi, assistant vice president of government affairs, Community Health Network of Washington. "More families than ever will end up getting their care in emergency rooms, which affects both the cost of and access to health care for all Washingtonians."

The ad highlights cuts to the Basic Health Plan, nursing home and other cuts affecting seniors, and cuts to hospitals and other health care facilities that will result in layoffs of more than 5,000 health care workers. Viewers are urged to call the Governor and their legislators and urge them to protect health care in the budget.

"We are urging the Legislature to find a way to protect our most vulnerable during this budget crisis," said Adam Glickman, spokesperson for SEIU Healthcare 775. "The cuts to nursing homes, home care and adult day services for Alzheimer’s patients and other seriously ill seniors will result in nursing homes being forced to close, and many vulnerable seniors being without assistance. This is just wrong and there has to be a better way."

The coalition has been working with legislators to find alternatives to an all-cuts budget and continues to push for alternate solutions to the budget crisis facing the State. It includes the following organizations:

Washington State Hospital Association

Washington State Nurses Association

SEIU Healthcare 775NW

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW

SEIU State Council

Washington State Health Care Association

WA United for Quality Nursing Home Care

Community Health Network of Washington

Group Health Cooperative

AARP Washington

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