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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For two decades, Washington State has been a national leader in providing health insurance to those who would otherwise be uninsured. Most recently, policymakers made a commitment to provide health insurance to every child in the state by 2010, a commitment that was put into law with the "Cover All Kids" legislation passed in 2007.

While significant progress has been made in providing health insurance to children, we have not done as well providing health insurance to parents. In early 2008, more than one in four lower income parents remained uninsured, compared to just 6 percent of higher-income parents (see below). Parental health insurance promotes financial security for lower income families and increases the likelihood that more children will be enrolled in public programs and have better access to care.

The graph above likely understates the problem. The data were collected in early 2008. Since then, unemployment in the state has spiked and is expected to reach 10 percent by next year. The proposed deep cuts in public health care investments would come at a time when those investments are more needed than ever.

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