A promise to Washington’s most vulnerable children and families will be broken if new children’s health legislation passes.
This was voiced loud and clear Wednesday as parents, doctors, nurses, patients, educators and advocates showed up strong in Olympia for Apple Health for Kids, testifying in powerful opposition to Senate Bill 5929.
At the Senate Ways and Means hearing, Auburn resident Antonio Flores of El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social spoke up for his children on Apple Health for Kids and families in his community that would be affected by the legislation:
“[Immigrants] pay taxes like anybody else. With that in mind, we deserve respect,” Flores told senators Wednesday, emphasizing that every child deserves programs like Apple Health for Kids. “Kids are kids. And they are the future of any nation regardless of their immigration status. I wonder if you have the courage to stand up for kids.”
The bill would deny 2,600 children access to health coverage, closing the door to check-ups, screenings and immunizations that prevent kids from developing lifelong health problems.
And by adding a monthly premium, Senate budget leaders would also make it even more difficult for over 123,000 low-income kids to be able to go to a doctor. Higher monthly premiums cause more kids to drop off coverage, leaving fewer children covered, healthy, and ready to learn.
The bill would punish thousands of children for circumstances beyond their control. This would have a terrible effect on the health of children, according to Children’s Hospital pediatric resident, Michael Semanik.
As Semanik said at the hearing, when children are seriously sick there is a short window of time to provide appropriate care. Thus, cutting children off of Apple Health for Kids by capping enrollment and increasing premiums is putting the lives of those kids at risk.
Flores completely rescheduled his day to go down to Olympia and testify that we should not be punishing children and their communities by taking away their Apple Health for Kids:
“I am not a political guy, I am speaking from the heart.”
We oppose the Senate budget approach, which breaks the promise of health coverage for kids, and support the House budget approach that provides much more to ensure healthy kids and families in Washington state.