While the US Senate grapples with Amy Coney Barretts’ confirmation hearings this week, voters would do well to turn their attention where their impact could be greatest. Our local judiciary rules on far more matters of importance to our daily lives. And for those of us mourning the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there is no better way to pay tribute to her legacy than by evaluating the qualifications of the Washington Supreme Court judicial candidates and exercising our right to vote.
While Washington lawmakers had good intentions, their actions were largely symbolic, because they overlooked a few issues that will interfere with this law having its’ intended effect. According to the Washington State Constitution, “absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship shall be guaranteed to every individual…” And to that end, the new vaccine exemption form replaced the philosophical exemption with a new box for parent-initiated religious exemption.
How did we get here? America has struggled to balance access to hospital services with utilization, quality and price for the past 50 years. In the mid-1960’s, certificate of need laws were established to limit the supply of hospital beds and equipment, prevent overutilization of services, control costs and improve quality.
The evidence is now clear CON laws not only increase costs, but also restrict access for the underserved, especially in rural areas. Hospital bed access is expressed in the number of beds/1,000 population; on average, there are 3.62 beds/1,000 people in the United States. Recent studies by Strattman and Russ found states with CON laws have 1.31 fewer beds/1,000 overall. Kaiser Foundation found Washington and Oregon have the lowest bed ratios in the nation, at 1.7 beds/1,000, with Kitsap County having a woefully inadequate ration of 1.30 beds/1,000. In short, the evidence supports the fact that CON regulations worsen access for rural residents.