Spokane Journal of Business

Bringing tax dollars to Spokane

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Consider this: $120 million in savings, thousands of jobs, and affordable health insurance for an additional 350,000 Washingtonians.
According to a recent report by the Urban Institute, those are just a few benefits of implementing Medicaid expansion (an optional component of President Obama's health care reform law) in Washington state.
Those are big benefits, especially in a struggling economy, and our state can't afford to ignore them. Washington is still recovering from the recession. Unemployment remains high. More than 1 million people are uninsured, and we're facing deep budget deficits each year.
That's why Medicaid expansion-something that governor-elect Jay Inslee has said he supports-is the right way forward for Washington. It brings our tax dollars back home, creates jobs, and ensures that our families and communities have access to the care they need.

I started my small business, Patriotic Motors, with a grand vision of helping move our country away from foreign oil dependence while also improving our environment.
Patriotic Motors works to convert vehicles to electric drive, and I'm proud of the work that we've accomplished.

I see a lot of similarities between the work that I do and Medicaid expansion. Both provide substantial financial savings. Both ensure that we're moving Spokane and our state toward sustainability and greater economic growth. And both affirm our values of taking care of our communities and our families.

So what's the deal with Medicaid expansion? Well first off, the federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost the first three years and 90 percent after that, ensuring that costs to the state are minimal. In fact, expansion will actually save Washington at least $120 million from 2014 to 2020 alone.

According to the Urban Institute report, our state Medicaid costs would be higher if Washington opts out of the expansion. In these tough economic times, turning down these savings simply doesn't make sense.

This federal money will create thousands of health care jobs in Washington and generate billions of dollars in business activity throughout our state. It also ensures that our tax dollars are brought back to Washington to contribute to our state's economic growth. Because Spokane is a health care hub, expansion will have a positive impact on our local economy as well, bringing much needed jobs and money into the region.

And, of course, Medicaid expansion would have positive benefits on the health and well-being of our communities. If implemented, health insurance coverage will be available to an additional 350,000 people, including hard-working families, seniors, and kids. These are people who otherwise would be left without any realistic health coverage options.

Let's be clear: a healthy population is also the foundation of a strong economy. You can't work if you're sick and can't afford the care you need to get healthy. You don't have disposable income if rising health care costs are eating away the majority of your paycheck, affecting disposable income that boosts our local economy and strengthens small businesses like mine.

As a small business owner, I know the importance of fiscal responsibility and making strategic business decisions. No matter which way you slice it, Medicaid expansion is a smart investment for Washington. The savings, jobs, and business activity generated will help get our economy back on track, benefiting everyone in our state.

  • Tim Foster

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