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February 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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Washington state may expand Medicaid

Expand Medicaid to help those with limited incomes

A woman in desperate need of care in Cleveland, Ohio, presented one evening at the Near West Side Free Clinic with difficulty swallowing. Discovering a mass in her throat, the volunteer doctor instructed she get to Metro Hospital immediately. Being very poor and without insurance, she was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer and subsequently had surgery and other treatment. This was 1975. Our free clinic was trying to fill a gap in the community for uninsured people with limited income.

I wondered why, in the richest country in the world, this woman had to be without health insurance that might have helped her quit smoking, have regular health exams and catch this cancer sooner. We must take advantage of the opportunity to expand Medicaid now [“State legislators study expansion of Medicaid,’ News, Jan. 28].

The Affordable Care Act expands access to care from prevention through treatment and end-of-life care. It will allow us to implement a systematic approach to help people with limited incomes obtain health insurance with dignity rather than continuing to force them to rely on handouts. With the ability to initiate preventive care and cancer screening tests, cancers will be diagnosed earlier when treatment outcomes are better and costs are less.

--Ellen Phillips-Angeles, ambassador, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Seattle

Where are the resources?

It is difficult to “do the math” on Medicaid as Lance Dickie urges without some mention of where the money will come from to pay for the reduced federal share of costs in three years for 250,000 Washington residents added to the system [“Medicaid expansion: Do the math,” Opinion, Feb. 1].

Nor where the physicians and hospitals will come from to treat those patients — especially while the “savings” from substantially reduced reimbursement for their services are being imposed. Math can help us understand reality — not a web of fantasies.

--Richard E. Ralston, executive director, Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, Calif.


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