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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

March 2, 2012 at 6:00 PM

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Disability Lifeline

Health care is hard to come by

Our state Senate and House leaders have been charged with not “living in reality” when putting together their budget proposals [Wash. Dems agree: Delay payments to fix budget,” Local News, Feb. 28].

In truth, they are taking to heart the realities of individuals in our communities who simply need access to affordable, quality health care — something that has been harder and harder to come by because of severe cuts the last few years.

The lives of real, hardworking people are at stake, as they struggle to stay healthy and make ends meet. Disabled individuals who need a little boost to find stability, face authentic barriers to that goal.

The legislators who have taken a stand and said “no” to casting away important health-care services, such as basic health and Disability Lifeline, are making bold and compassionate choices to create the kind of state we want to live in — one with healthy communities and a strong economy.

My hope is that the rest of the Legislature steps up to do the same.

— Judy Featherstone, medical director, HealthPoint, Renton

We need these basic services

Our Seattle section members disagree with The Seattle Times editorial stand on defunding Disability Lifeline [“Too few cuts, too many tricks in the Senate Democrats’ budget,” Opinion, Feb. 29].

The National Council of Jewish Women Seattle Section (NCJW) has worked in the Seattle area for over 112 years as a grass-roots organization working for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families.

We instead encourage a win-win reform approach for Disability Lifeline that creates a more cost-effective support service for our disabled citizens and helps them to maintain their health and dignity through their temporary misfortune.

It is our moral responsibility to help those who are less fortunate and in crisis. Our community will be judged by how well we do this.

Every person in our community will be diminished if our legislators “reform” Disability Lifeline out of existence. This will create a fiscal and logistic crisis by overstretching our emergency rooms, jails and prisons.

The irony will be that the price tag will be much higher as there is no real savings in “reforming” Disability Lifeline.

We all have seen the large costs of expensive and relapsing ER interventions. Our jails and prisons must not become the shelters of last resort for these members of our society.

Defunding vital services for essential medical and housing assistance to the disabled is inhumane, not “reform” in any sense of the word, and short sighted, poor fiscal policy.

Seattle and Washington state cannot afford not to support the vital basic services that Disability Lifeline provides.

— Cheryl Berenson, president, NCJW Seattle Section

— Sandy Kraus, Advocacy and State Public Affairs, NCJW Seattle Section

Let’s care for each other

I would like to share my experience as a social worker for in King County for the past 20 years.

I have worked with all types of populations. People who are disabled, immigrant families, women fleeing domestic violence, recovering addicts, senior citizens, the chronically mentally ill and homeless men in South King County.

Many of my clients are on the former General Assistance-Unemployable program, now called Disability Lifeline, in which they used to receive a cash grant of $197 plus medical coupons.

Now many of the chronically homeless have lost this little bit of money that has kept them from falling completely apart.

The little bit that helped them get around for services, gets them a decent meal, a bus pass, or laundry money to keep their clothes clean. The reality is that there are people in our community who are alone and cannot work, and more importantly do not have anyone to take care of them or anyplace to go.

They need this little assistance to survive. It is cruel and unfair to throw away a certain segment of our population. everyone has value, and it is our job to help each other get through this life.

Many people think that most folks struggling don’t want to work, or are lazy, or don’t want to earn their own way. This is not true in my experience..

We need to support programs that offer job training, guidance, and support to those in need especially in these times. Just look how hard it is right now for the average middle-class person.

Think for a moment how hard it is then for a person who is homeless, does not have the proper education to get a decent job, has mental health issues or is alone?

There is coming a time where we will all need to depend on each other, care for one another, work with each other, and share. We rise and fall together.

Let’s take the time for each other to care. It’s all that really matters.

— Anant Mehta, Kent


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