Wash. Lawmakers Consider Taking the Green Away From Health Centers

Apr 10, 2015

The non profit community health centers of Washington are concerned about the latest action by state lawmakers dealing with money from marijuana sales in the state. Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana, mandated that 5 percent of tax revenues from pot sales go to non profit community health centers in the state.

Credit Spokane Public Radio

  But the public policy director for Community Health Network, Molly Belozer Firth, says the House and Senate have both proposed budgets that divert that money elsewhere, away from what the network sees a priority: serving the uninsured.

Molly Belozer Firth: “The house actually put the money toward the health centers but they used it to supplant existing general fund dollars to supplant Medicaid enrollees. So it doesn’t provide any new money, and it doesn’t help the uninsured. The senate took all the money and put it toward education."

Firth explains that even with Medicaid expansion in the state, 21 percent of the community clinic’s patient’s remain uninsured, or about 200,000 of the patients served in the last year.

Firth says they are lobbying members of both houses to try to get the funding restored. She says the lost funding would have totaled about $14 million.

One of the network's clinics is CHAS, Community Health Association of Spokane.