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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 23, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 25
Sen. Patty Murray visits patients at Seattle community health clinic

Up to 100,000 Washingtonians to lose insurance under GOP plan, 600,000 Medicaid patients at risk
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Sen. Patty Murray visits patients at Seattle community health clinic

Up to 100,000 Washingtonians to lose insurance under GOP plan, 600,000 Medicaid patients at risk

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sen. Patty Murray visited Seattle's International Community Health Services (ICHS) clinic June 16, to hear directly from patients and health care providers about the devastating impact the pending Republican health care bill would have on local people.

Like other community health clinics, the ICHS provides affordable health care to working families and other low-income patients, many from Seattle's most vulnerable communities.

In addition to ICHS CEO Teresita Batayola, Murray also met with ICHS patients Kelly Hill, an HIV-positive woman with a developmentally disabled son on Medicaid, and Doug Hathaway, a Parkinson's disease patient whose medication is covered by Medicaid.

Under the GOP health care plan reportedly being considered by the Senate, more than 600,000 people currently enrolled in the state's Medicaid program could lose their coverage unless the state can find $1.4 billion in new revenue each year. Another 100,000 Washington residents could be priced out of their individual insurance plans.

As the SGN goes to press on June 22, Republican senators have not released a full text of their health care bill and have scheduled no hearings on the legislation.

Hathaway - a member of Pride At Work AFL-CIO who works as a church custodian - explained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) had helped him get the medication he needs to cope with his Parkinson's disease.

He never used the 'relatively inexpensive catastrophic policy' he bought, since he's 'been blessed with good health for most of my life,' he said, 'but I didn't go to the doctor unless something was acutely wrong, because I didn't want to run up a bill.'

Then he discovered that under the ACA he was eligible for expanded Medicaid and he enrolled in a program that provided him with annual checkups. It turned out to be just in time.

'About a year and a half ago,' Hathaway explained, 'I began to slow down and have difficulty doing things with my hands, but I thought I was just getting old. When I went in for my checkup last summer, my doctor noticed that my balance seemed a little off. She did some tests and diagnosed me with atypical-onset Parkinson's disease, atypical because my hands don't shake.

'She started me on medication. The diagnosis was confirmed by a neurologist. They arranged for me to have three months of physical therapy, to learn exercises to help maintain my strength and flexibility. I've got my dexterity back, and I've been able to keep working throughout. I've also seen a social worker and a counselor, to talk about my long-term plans. Medicaid covered all of this.

'I'm 59, so I won't qualify for Medicare for a while. The ACA has made it possible for me to get the medical care I need to stay in the workforce,' Hathaway concluded.

If Hathaway had not had Medicaid coverage, or if he loses it under the Republican legislation, his disease could rapidly progress to the point that he is no longer able to work, or to get around without assistance.

'The concern I heard today in stories from patients at ICHS about how they might lose coverage for life-saving treatment if Trumpcare is enacted was moving and powerful,' Murray said at the conclusion of her ICHS visit.

'The last thing patients and their families should have to worry about is Republicans taking the care they rely on away or forcing them to pay more - and that's why I'm doing everything I can to make sure their voices are heard in back in Washington, DC, and fighting to keep Republicans from jamming this harmful bill through.'

Murray is ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee - the committee that should have jurisdiction over health care legislation - but she has repeatedly complained that Republican Senate leaders will not show her the bill they intend to propose.

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