$98 million to subsidize cosmetic surgery and non-organic fertilizers – or keep Medicaid intact for 45,000 people?

Fertilizer versus Health care

Which public investment best represents our values?

While Washington legislators debate whether to cut $98 million from state Medicaid services, the equivalent amount in tax breaks for cosmetic surgery and non-organic fertilizers are still on the books.

As documented by Publicola’s Bryce McKay, a cut that size will reduce in-home Medicaid personal care hours to 45,000 individuals. That means:

Clients will see their hours reduced by 4 to 22 hours each month for assistance with bathing, medication management, dressing and other activities. [F]or Neidigh-Kumm, home care is the only way he’s been able to remain in his home. His caregivers deal with everything, starting with basic hygiene issues—“They cook, they clean, they wash things, and they bathe me. They help take care of [my cat] Ricky-Bobby, who is my only companion for nineteen hours a day. They are my arms, my legs, and sometimes, my ears and my eyes.”

…If Neidigh-Kumm’s condition worsens, or if his home environment is deemed unsuitable, he’ll be transferred to a home. “People say, ‘why don’t you go into a skilled nursing or adult day.’ I value my independence, such as it is,” Neidigh-Kumm says.

Does it really make sense to prioritize two sales tax exemptions — one for non-organic fertilizers and sprays that costs nearly $84 million, and another for cosmetic surgery worth nearly $14 million — over basic medical care for the most vulnerable and poor people in Washington?

You can get a closer look at billions of dollars of other corporate subsidies and tax exemptions – many of which have been on the books since the 1930?s – in EOI’s 2008 policy brief Everybody Else Gets One: An Analysis of Tax Breaks in Washington State.

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