A longtime dentist and health leader says it's time Washington adds a new midlevel provider to extend care and clinic hours to the chronically underserved. In other news, a new report confirms that current marijuana enforcement is costly and disproportionately hurts communities of color. Business leaders in Clark County hail high-quality early learning as a smart investment with high returns. Finally, the Tri-City Herald endorses Referendum 74 to protect love and equality for all of Washington’s families.
But we dentists simply don’t have the capacity to deliver all the services that patients need. With dental therapists on our team, we could serve as the primary managers of oral disease, while the midlevel therapists would provide the most commonly needed services. As a practicing dentist in Western Washington for 30 years, I have had the honor and privilege of helping tens of thousands of patients maintain healthy mouths. My chairs are full of parents, children and working people from the moment we open until the moment we close. My staff and I work hard. But all too frequently, the problems we’re fixing could have been prevented if we had a more flexible, affordable oral-health-care system. This would benefit everyone, not only patients, but dentists too.
The report, by a New York-based group of academics, conservatively estimates those arrests cost $305,714,500 in police and court during the past 25 years, and $194,026,500 in the past 10 years, a figure that excludes the cost of defense and court fines. The report underscores a key argument for Initiative 502, a measure on the November ballot, which would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Report co-author Harry Levine, a sociology professor at City University of New York, said his group is not funded by any of the large institutional donors to I-502; none of the authors contributed I-502, according to campaign finance reports. But the timing is not coincidental, said Levine. “There is an intent to capture people’s attention about what is going on,” he said. The data also underscores earlier findings about racial disproportionality in drug arrests. Although white people report use of marijuana at slightly higher rates than African-Americans or Latinos; blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at more than twice the rate of whites, and Latinos were arrested at rates more than 50% higher than whites.
Current enforcement of marijuana laws disproportionately impacts communities of color in Washington state. Although white and black adult Washingtonians are equally likely to use marijuana, blacks are 3.2 times more likely to be arrested for possessing it. Legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use would greatly reduce this glaring disparity in our criminal justice system. The current system can also cause significant long-term damage to an individual’s economic potential. Being convicted of sale or possession of marijuana can deny a person access to assistance programs that encourage economic mobility and security, including student loans and public housing. They may also lose their job, driver’s license, or even custody of their children.
Building strong foundations from the start is smart business | Vancouver Business Journal | 10-12-2012
Nearly 6,000 babies are born in Clark County each year. However, only about half of those children will start kindergarten with the key skills they need to be successful. Child development research shows that disparities in cognitive, social, behavioral and health outcomes associated with family income, race and ethnicity, home language and parent's education attainment are apparent at nine months and the “preparedness gap” between poor kids and their peers by age four is significant. The good news is that evidence also shows that access to high-quality early learning programs can close this achievement gap so that children arrive at kindergarten possessing the requisite social-emotional and cognitive skills needed to succeed on the first day of school.
Same-sex marriage: Yes | Tri-City Herald | 10-14-2012
We're sorry, folks, but times have changed. While you're entitled to your beliefs, those who think only men and women should be allowed to marry are out of touch with reality. Many same-sex couples are raising children. And a same-sex couple really has to make a choice to have a child, unlike some heterosexual couples who bring babies into this world without any forethought. Hence, the high rate of single parents we see and the children who struggle because of it.
Infographic: Four Reasons Why Medicaid Expansion is a Good Idea | Schmudget blog (The Washington State Budget & Policy Center | 10-17-2012
With big changes on the way under federal health care reform, one major decision facing lawmakers is whether or not to opt-in to one of health reform’s biggest provisions: expansion of Medicaid. This is a no-brainer. Federal expansion of Medicaid is a good deal for states.
C- Is Just Not Good Enough for Our Kids |The Huffington Post | 10-11-2012
The presidential candidates keep talking about building a more prosperous and more competitive nation -- a much-needed priority, considering the report assigned our country a D on economic security for children -- yet, during the first presidential debate, neither candidate mentioned the poverty epidemic affecting 16 million kids. That's nearly one in four children who know all too well what it means to go without.
Weighing the true cost of childcare | Marketplace: Money Matters – American Public Media | 10-11-2012
Putting a child into full-time day care can cost up to $15,000 in some parts of the country. That’s according to an annual study from Child Care Aware of America. The study found that it costs more to put a 4-year-old in full-time care than it does to pay public college tuition and fees in 19 different states. For many parents, those prices don’t justify them staying at work.
At 0-32, gay-marriage forces seek 1st win at polls | The Associated Press | 10-14-2012
All four states are expected to be carried in November by President Barack Obama, who came out in support of same-sex marriage earlier this year. In Maryland, as in Maine and Washington, the most recent polls show a lead for the supporters of same-sex marriage. But comparable leads in other states – notably in California in 2008 – evaporated by Election Day, and Josh Levin, manager of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, expects the final result to be extremely close. Levin and his allies are aware that Maryland, because its polls close earlier than Maine's or Washington's, could become the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. "We cannot take it for granted," Levin said. "That being said, if we make it happen in Maryland, the lessons learned here can be applied across the country."