Health care is a good investment and she will work during the 2009 legislative session to make it more available and affordable, 24th District Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, told Olympic Medical Center's board of commissioners at its Sept. 17 meeting.
"Health care will be a major issue in the next legislative session. "We really should have health care for everyone. Everyone needs health care," she said.
Kessler, along with Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, and Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represents the 24th District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and one third of Grays Harbor County.
The 2009 Washington state Legislature is set to convene its 105-day regular session on Monday, Jan. 12, and adjourn, or sine die, on April 26.
Kessler, who is House majority leader, said legislators intend to provide health care coverage for all children by 2010.
During the last regular 105-
day session, in 2007, the Legislature passed bills that expanded children's health care coverage, keeps foster children from losing health care coverage when they turn 18 and urged Congress to reauthorize children's health care funding.
"Health care is a good investment because without it people don't go to the doctor when they get sick. Then they end up going to the emergency room, which is the most expensive health care there is," Kessler said.
Hospitals always are struggling with Medicare reimbursement rates but that will require a federal fix, Kessler said. No substantive inroads will be made at the state and local levels, she said.
Mental health care also is a good investment, Kessler said, urging expansion of that system as well, including for children.
Providing comprehensive mental health coverage could help prevent incidents such as the Sept. 2 killing of six people in Skagit County and the Aug. 5, 2000, killing of Clallam County Deputy Wally Davis, she said.
Kessler also thanked the board and the community for working to pass Olympic Medical Center's property tax levy in the Aug. 19 election.
Kessler's brief appearance before the OMC board came at the end of a more than 14-hour workday that included a round-trip drive from her home in Hoquiam.
During her visit, Kessler also spoke to seniors at Trinity United Methodist Church in Sequim about the importance of voting, attended a forum on the Forks biomass project, and attended the opening of the $14.5 million library and media center at Peninsula College.
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