Republicans propose slicing another $57 million from the state budget by eliminating Disability Lifeline, costing the state $55 million in matching federal funds in the process. But the costs don't end there. Tossing 20,000 disabled low-income Washingtonians—many of them veterans, and most of them with mental disabilities—off the health care rolls and into our streets, prisons, and emergency rooms, would cost the public another $67 million in uncompensated care... an expense that will just be passed on to consumers, businesses, and taxpayers. Then, of course, there's the toll in human suffering, but I've learned long ago that money trumps morals when it comes to politics, so there's not much to be gained by going there.
It's the very definition of penny-wise, pound-foolish. Republicans decry the notion of shifting a payment to public schools by one day, from one biennium to another, but they've got no problem with blithely shifting the costs of caring for our most vulnerable citizens from the state budget onto those of hospitals and clinics.
In defending their austerity budget, Republican after Republican stood on the Senate floor to argue that we just can't afford to fund programs like this any longer. But unless we're willing to just let these people die in emergency room parking lots for lack of coverage, the truth is, we can't afford not to.