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News about the legal Washington State industry & public concerns.

Wash. Lawmakers Consider Taking the Green Away From Health Centers

Spokane Public Radio

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.

  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 housesto 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.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.