Letters to the Editor

Legislature must restore state healthcare funding

I am writing to share my concern over alarming trends in Washington’s healthcare system.

In the 1990s, Washington was a leading state in the country for healthy, insured residents. In the last several years, we have moved backwards. 

There are now almost 600,000 uninsured people in our state. Washington’s hospitals and other safety-net providers are seeing dramatic increases in the number of uninsured patients. For example, in our health system alone, uncompensated care rose by an astounding 75 percent this year compared to the prior 12-month period.

A January 2005 poll by the Working for Health Coalition found that voters consider healthcare as the single most-important issue facing Washington today. Voters also overwhelmingly support a “safety net” system to provide healthcare to people without health insurance. 

I urge the Legislature to restore some of the budget cuts it made in 2003. I realize that this budget request comes at a very difficult time, but additional cuts to healthcare funding will further jeopardize access to care, health status and mortality. 

While I appreciate the fact that the state must look for new revenues to provide adequate funding for health care, our legislators must support new revenues to ensure a solid health care system in our community. The citizens represented by our lawmakers consider this the No. 1 issue facing the state, as do we at Franciscan Health System.

 Joseph Wilczek

Chief executive officer,

Franciscan Health System

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