In response to "The Game of Life and Death," by Pia K. Hansen in the Jan. 25 edition of The Inlander, I'd like to thank you for bringing to light such a complicated issue. In Eastern Washington there are approximately 100,000 people who go without healthcare every day because they don't have health insurance. When they do seek help it is often in an emergency room and only when it has become a crisis.
In addition to the price people pay for poor health, uninsured patients cost Eastern Washington hospitals $25 million in 1999 in uncompensated care. These costs are passed on to consumers through increased premiums and higher taxes.
Of those 100,000 uninsured an estimated 36,000 people are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through Washington sponsored health plans. If all eligible people were enrolled in programs like Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance and Basic Health, Eastern Washington would gain approximately $61 million a year in the form of new healthcare payments. Most importantly, people would have good access to preventive and ongoing healthcare services.
I encourage anyone who doesn't have health insurance to call Health for All at 1-866-444-3066. On Feb. 16-17 from noon to 5 pm, Health for All staff will be at the Spokane Valley Mall and NorthTown Mall to answer questions and enroll those eligible in the state health program.
& & Dan Baumgarten
Health Improvement Partnership & & & &
On Saturday, Feb. 3, I was told that Spokane Youth Sports Association will be closing our indoor soccer center at Regal and 55th Avenue, due to loss of revenue over the past 14 years. I, and many other parents, were extremely disappointed and surprised especially as the announcement was so unexpected and done so quietly.
My children have enjoyed participating in many of the programs at the indoor center. We feel it is a safe and comfortable environment for children to learn and enjoy sports, especially during the long winter season. Also, being only a 5-10 minute drive from our home, it is very convenient. I'm not aware of a similar facility on the South Hill which would accommodate us so well.
Had we known about the financial trouble the center was having, we would have gladly participated in fund-raisers and accepted an increase in fees for the various programs. And after speaking to parents on Saturday, we all agree more should have been done to let us help out. Instead, we feel we were kept in the dark.
Why is the indoor center operating at such a loss? Where is the money going? From a flyer presented to me it seems all SYSA funds and grant money are going to the new Andrew Rypien Field alone, and that more than $1 million has been raised for this field alone. This certainly doesn't help us on the South Hill where we have one small outdoor field located near potentially hazardous power lines, and soon won't have an indoor center at all.
Please call SYSA (534-7398) and tell them to not close the center. Our kids need your help to save the indoor center.
& & Elizabeth Fobes
Spokane, Wash. & & & &
I cannot begin to explain my disbelief at the article, "Counting Pennies," in the Feb. 1 edition of The Inlander. I guess I should not be surprised at the inaccuracy of the source of the table of monthly spending -- the Spokane Regional Health District. I was appalled at how out of touch with reality they seem to be. What is more appalling is that the reporter who wrote the article didn't seem to flinch at the figures presented... The Inlander must pay its reporters much better than anyone realized!
Under 'Household supplies, Laundry, Toiletries, etc.' a stipend of $25 is way out of touch with reality! And if you can tell me where I can get car liability insurance for $40 a month, please give us all the name of the insurance company.
Under 'Entertainment' for $20 a month, that would just about pay for two people to go to a first run movie -- once a month -- if that!
Also, if you could give my husband and I the name of a landlord in Spokane who would rent a decent two bedroom place for $492 a month, again, let me know... if the truth is known it's probably in a crappy neighborhood.
I don't think I'm the only reader that had a lot of trouble with the finances in the table presented in the article. While it did present the plight of the 'working poor' -- I do not feel that it represented the finances even remotely accurately, they are very understated.
& & Linda Jacobson
Orient, Wash. & & & &
Editor's Note: Both the Spokane Regional Health District and The Inlander stand by the budget estimates reported in the story. There was a mistake made in that calculation, however: The monthly income should have been $2,150, not $2,105. The calculated income is based on a four-week pay period, since few people work 52 weeks straight with no time off due to illness or vacation.
Some readers questioned how the taxes were calculated, saying they were set too high at $364 per month. That number includes federal tax, social security and Medicare payments -- it does not take into consideration any deductions (for childcare or other tax deductible expenses) this fictive couple may have. The costs of personal expenses such as entertainment, personal care and clothing are set as an absolute minimum. This budget is intended to be an example of a bare-bones budget, illustrating some of the choices a family on minimum wage may have to make.