Let’s secure our health care safety net | Tuggle-Miles

  • Saturday, February 18, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

Many of us take for granted that when we’re ill or injured, we can find a doctor or dentist to help. We may not be aware of the struggles that some families in Bothell experience when they decide whether they can afford to seek care — but our community health centers see the difference that having insurance coverage makes every single day.

Since Medicaid coverage was expanded in our state to provide health insurance to an additional 600,000 people over the past three years, more patients than ever before have had the support they need to seek treatment.

But their peace of mind has been short lived. With talk of undoing health care reform, we are facing the prospect of unravelling all of the progress we’ve made in Washington to care for those who most need our support.

Terms like “health care safety net” can sometimes seem overly complicated, but the idea behind it is common sense. Those people in our communities who are vulnerable should be able to rely on health care that is accessible and affordable. Have you heard the phrase “we are only as strong as our weakest link?” By protecting the health of others, we increase the health of our communities as a whole.

One of my responsibilities at HealthPoint is to ensure our clinics have the right equipment and supplies, therefore helping to lay a foundation that helps our patients get well and stay well. The expansion of Medicaid has provided a similar, strong baseline of support for patient health.

Our state representatives need to hear that securing our community’s health care safety net is a priority.

While insurance coverage through Medicaid is essential, it doesn’t guarantee that underserved families can access a clinic or doctor to use that insurance. There are two investments the legislature can make this year to start bridging the gap between coverage and care.

The first is to make more money available for loan repayment to providers who choose to work in community health centers that serve low-income populations. The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program is critical for us to attract primary care providers, including dentists and behavioral health specialists, while helping them address their significant debt from medical school.

The second investment would address our state’s oral health crisis. In the first year of our Bothell dental clinic we had 7,166 visits, and in the second year that skyrocketed to 13,246 visits. This exponential growth in just one location is indicative of the high demand for dental services that we see across Washington. Community health centers have plans for 25 new and expanded dental clinics across the state, but need additional state funding to make them a reality and bring oral health to tens of thousands more people.

Those families who are most in need are counting on us. Please advocate for the health of our community by raising your voice to protect Medicaid coverage and build on the advances we’ve made.

Pamela Tuggle-Miles is a Bothell resident and a Health Systems Administrator at HealthPoint, a non- profit community health center that operates 12 medical and dental clinic locations throughout King County, including Bothell. HealthPoint has a Board of Directors comprised of mroe than 50 percent “consumer” Board members, defined as people who are patients of that health center.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Republican’s write-in campaign highlights post-primary intrigue | Roegner

Can former Bothell mayor beat two Democrats for lieutenant governor post?

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
What does it mean to violate the Hatch Act? | Roegner

The federal law was established in 1939.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Editorial: State lawmakers shouldn’t wait to start budget work

Making tough choices on cuts and revenue can’t wait until next year and hopes for better news.

Rico Thomas, left, has been a clerk in the Fuel Center/Mini Mart at Safeway in Federal Way for the past 5 years. Kyong Barry, right, has been with Albertsons for 18 years and is a front end supervisor in Auburn. Both are active members of UFCW 21. Courtesy photos
Grocery store workers deserve respect and hazard pay | Guest column

As grocery store workers in King County, we experience the hard, cold… Continue reading

Face masks save lives and jobs across Washington

Wearing a mask saves lives and saves jobs. And all across the… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Reopen schools in fall, but do it safely

Don’t bully schools into reopening. Protect our students.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Doreen Davis, left in mask, waves at parade participants on May 2. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Wear your face-hugging, ever-loving mask | Editorial

“Don’t make me come down there.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,… Continue reading

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

The true meaning of community | Guest editorial

LWTech president Dr. Amy Morrison reflects on how the COVID-19 outbreak has brought the community together.

Deserving respect for being human | Windows and Mirrors

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted. Here’s what’s been happening on the Eastside.