Health Equity and Recovery Trust – the HEART Plan
A proposal to meet the challenges of today and invest in a better future for us all.
In the face of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, we must develop a path forward to avoid austerity budget cuts now and address the critical needs of the public for the future. The best way to economic recovery is to invest in our people. Progressive revenue will provide funding for critical public purposes and will promote fairness in our tax system.
We need to respond to this challenge, by:
- Identifying the clear priorities for targeted investments, and
- Showing the specific revenue sources to pay for the investments.
Urgent Public Need
With remarkable speed, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on personal and public health and crashed the economy. This unprecedented health and economic crisis caused mass unemployment, intensified underlying social and racial inequities, exposed the underfunding of public health, and devastated our state budgets.
Without significant state funding for foundational public health, investment in the survival of our community agencies, and the prevention of austerity budget cuts, our economic recovery will be prolonged. Our public-health system and frontline workforce may not be prepared for a re-emergence of coronavirus or the next public-health emergency that arises. This crisis affects our entire state and the investments we make should be extended to all residents in need across Washington, centering those most impacted by the virus (Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Pacific Islanders).
Respond to the pandemic
- Foundational public health, including frontline workforce
- Personal Protective Equipment produced and warehoused in Washington state to end our reliance on haphazard supply lines
- Community-based, culturally-relevant community health workers and specialized case workers to assist families, people who are unhoused and other priority populations, particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color
- Free testing and contact tracing for the virus
- Preventive care, including health education and culturally relevant communications to priority populations.
Invest in behavioral health and mental illness treatment
- Expanded treatment for people with, or at risk of behavioral health illnesses; preserve available “psych beds”
- A variety of facilities, including the Behavioral Health Institute, a new Behavioral Health Teaching Hospital (to move patients out of Western State Hospital) and other local programs, to improve access and treatment
- Thousands of new units of supportive housing with treatment services, to provide long-term housing for the chronically homeless
- Preventive care such as free mental health first aid, school mental health counselors, youth programming, restorative justice organizations, and geriatric mental health therapists
- Drug court funding to address criminal behavior caused by substance use disorders
- Expanded first responders’ capacity and trauma informed care training for first responders
- Increased support to 211 and crisis lines, including those for suicide prevention, poison control, domestic violence and sexual assault.
- Increase community mental health workers to respond to 911 calls, to reduce the use of police
Support community health care for all across Washington
- Universal health care for All
- Expand our state’s Apple Health program to cover all young people to 26 years of age
- Subsidize people to afford the Public Option health plan on the Washington State Health Exchange
- Expand funding for community health clinics, dental clinics, outreach services, community health workers, home visiting, medical interpreters, cultural navigators
- Family planning and reproductive health care
- Services for people with developmental disabilities
- Dental care and maternity care for people on Medicaid
Paid for by Progressive Taxation
Washington’s upside-down tax code amplifies inequities. Households with the lowest incomes pay the highest percentage in state and local taxes. To fund the community health investments and advance equity, opportunity, and economic recovery in Washington state, it is time to establish a corporate excise tax on annual compensation for large corporations and impose a wealth tax on high net-worth individuals and corporations to produce $500 million per year, in a dedicated account, to meet our common health and economic challenges.
Establishing a Fair Share Contribution tax on large corporations:
- Tier one: a 5% corporate contribution on per employee compensation exceeding half a million dollars
- Tier two: a 10% corporate contribution on per employee compensation exceeding ten million dollars.
Establish an annual wealth tax on high net-worth individuals.
We are all in this together.
It’s time to have a HEART.