Opinion

Take action in health care debate

Fresh carrots, watch out, because Flora will be getting her teeth back.

Days after we published our story on Medicaid-related cutbacks affecting the Mount Si Transitional Health Center in North Bend, the word was already out about Flora Jean Buso, the woman in the cover photo. Community-minded individuals started a donation campaign to pay for the dentures she lost more than a year ago. One benefactor called me to ask for one of my photos to promote the cause. I duly complied, forwarding a less sombre version than the one I felt went with a serious story. But I also urged the caller to get in touch with the Health Center, for permission as well as more details.

A few days after that, Transitional Center Administrator Beth Marsh expressed gratitude for the help that Flora will be receiving. But she also reminded me that the issues that underlined that story, the reason she wanted Flora’s story told, remained out there. If people want to help the Transitional Center, Marsh said, what they really should do is call their legislator.

Operators of the center are campaigning for two bills, one in the Washington state house, the other in the Senate, that would institute a new bed tax for residents in long-term care.

While not without some controversy—the bed tax is challenged by a major non-profit operator—the for-profit nursing homes say the fee would go a long way to solving continued, niggling cuts to benefits. They believe they’re at the tipping point, and that help is needed soon.

While I’m not an expert on the intricacies of Medicaid and senior housing, I have seen how families, including my own, can be challenged by the search for affordable care. Senior housing can be very costly, and with a vast wave of aging Boomers hitting their golden years, how best to care for the elderly is fast becoming an important question for our region.

I urge Snoqualmie Valley residents to consider House Bill 1722 and Senate Bill 5581, then make their voices heard.

Local legislators have a lot on their plate right now: the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis, school and transportation issues and elimination of the B&O tax. However, I’m sure all three prioritize health and safety and would appreciate feedback from residents.

When you’re ready, here are ways for you to reach your representatives:

• State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, (R-Hobart). P.O. Box 40405, Olympia, WA 98504-0405. (360) 786-7608. E-mail: pflug_ch@leg.wa.gov

• State Rep. Jay Rodne, (R-Snoqualmie). P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.  (360) 786-7852. E-mail: rodne_ja@leg.wa.gov

• State Rep. Glenn Anderson, (R-Fall City). P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600. (360) 786-7876. E-mail: anderson_gl@leg.wa.gov

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