Social and Economic Policy
Health Care

Everyone should have access to affordable, quality health care across a full spectrum of services from preventive care to long-term care; and a workforce sufficient in quantity and qualified to provide these services and with the north star of a publicly funded universal healthcare system.


Issue Team Chair:  Jody Disney, jdisney@lwvwa.org, (520) 468-9499
 DOWNLOAD the Health Care Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Contact Jody Disney


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Updates

Legislation


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Overview of the 2023 Legislative Session

The League at both the state and national level supports access to affordable quality health care for all. Restrictions to access, provider availability, and networks plague our healthcare system. Currently the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in this nation is healthcare. Inequity in the system is rampant with one’s zip code defining the healthcare available to you as well as the quality of it.

During the last session legislation was passed addressing some of these issues:

Personal choices in healthcare were the focus of important legislation from abortion to medical aid in dying. Legislation protecting access to abortion care, abortion provider protections, removal of cost barriers for abortion and data protection bills were voted into law. These bills will aide in protecting Washingtonians personal freedoms. Another important focus was addressing healthcare workforce stressors by making licensing and certification processes more streamlined. Immigrant healthcare was included in funding and Washington was the first state in the nation to receive a waiver for immigrants to participate in the healthcare marketplace.


Overview of the 2024 Legislative Session

In the upcoming session the League’s advocacy in healthcare will center on supporting legislation around acquisitions and mergers and supporting the work of the Universal Healthcare Commission. It is likely more legislation will be introduced to increase the healthcare workforce, especially in behavioral health and facilitate improved access to health services in underserved areas and underserved populations.


Updates
If there is a major update on a bill, action chairs may want to write up a report detailing changes or summarizing debate in committee.


2024 Health Care Legislation

Priority Bills

Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

HB 1954 Harmonizing language relating to reproductive health care services and gender affirming care. Sponsored by Representatives Riccelli, Bateman, and Ramel this bill seeks to protect providers from disciplinary action as long as they are acting within the law and standards in Washington. This bill is rapidly moving. It has PASSED.


HB 1969/SB 5811 Expanding the definition of family member for individual providers. Related to in-home health care providers (relatives). Sponsored by Representative Alvarado this bill broadens the definition to include family members providing care who have not been able to be reimbursed previously but provides the same guidelines. It has PASSED.

HB 1979 Reducing the cost of inhalers and epinephrine autoinjectors. Sponsored by Paul and others this bill amends RCW 48.43.780. designates the equivalent rules for these medications as have been made for emergency insulin the co-pay can be applied to the insured’s deductible. This bill requires health plans, including health plans offered to public and school employees, to cap the total out of pocket cost for a 30-day supply of asthma inhalers and a two-pack of epinephrine autoinjectors at $35. It has PASSED.

SB 5821 Establishing a uniform standard for creating an established relationship for the purposes of coverage of audio-only telemedicine services. Sponsored by Representative Harris this bill Establishes a uniform standard for creating an established relationship for the purposes of coverage of audio only telemedicine services by expanding the time in which a health care provider has seen the patient and removing the expiration of provisions allowing for the use of real-time interactive appointments using both audio and video technology. It has PASSED.

HB 1889 Allowing persons to receive professional licenses and certifications regardless of immigration or citizenship status.  Sponsored by Representative Walen this bill provides eligibility for certain professional and commercial licenses, certifications, permits, and registrations for various professions for persons not lawfully present in the United States. It has PASSED.

SB 5580 An Act relating to Improving maternal health outcomes. This bill sponsored by Senator Muzzall and ten others raises the federal poverty index to 210 percent for pregnant and postpartum women by November 1, 2024. It as well addresses a key issue in postpartum care for women and their newborns by directing the healthcare authority to create a post-delivery post-partum and transitional program for those women suffering from substance use disorder at the time of delivery by extending the post-partum stay. It additionally requires the HCA to update the current Maternal Support Service to address equity, and to improve birth and perinatal outcomes by January 1, 2025. It has PASSED.

SB 5986 Protecting consumers from out-of-network health care service charges. This bill sponsored by Senator Cleveland and Muzzall and others seeks to prevent consumers being charged out-of-network fees by ambulance companies for emergency and non-emergency treatment and transportation (including air ambulance services) as well as behavioral health emergency and non-emergency transport. Insurance carriers must include in-network information to members. It has PASSED.

Dead, but NOT Buried
Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

The following bills represent priority issues for the League. Both SB 5241 and SJM 8006 made real progress this year, though not being heard for that final passage was very disappointing. They will be renumbered and filed next session as will SJR 8202.

SB 5241 Concerning material changes to the materials and operation structure of participants in the health care marketplace (previously Keep Our Care Act (KOCA)). Sponsored by Senator Randall this bill seeks to limit mergers and acquisitions of hospitals and health care facilities. Passage gives the Attorney General further legal grounds to investigate and intervene in cases where takeover of a secular health care facility limits choice in personal health care decision making. This is particularly of concern in end of life, gender affirming care and the whole of reproductive health care.

SJM 8006 Requesting that the Federal Government create a Universal Health Care Program. This bill sponsored by Senator Hasegawa, Cleveland, Billig, Kuderer, Lovelett, Nugyen, Shewmake, Stanford, Valdez, and Wilson, C. is a joint memorial to the Federal Government which requests the Government to create a single payor Universal Health care program and if it will not or cannot the Government should provide Washington State with the necessary waivers allowing the State to develop, define, and fund our own. It is a statement to Washington DC that we the people of Washington want Universal Healthcare funded by a single payor system separate from employment.

SJR 8202 /HJR 4201 Senate Joint Resolution. Amending the State Constitution to address reproductive freedom. This resolution will require passage by two-thirds of the membership in both the House and Senate and if passed will be voted on by the voters in the next general election. Sponsored by Senators Keiser and Kuderer and fourteen others.


How To Be Involved

  • If you are interested in a particular bill, use the links above to go to the webpage for that bill. These pages include staff summaries and reports including who testified PRO versus CON on the bill. There is also information about how to access videos of hearings that have been held. 
  • Read and take action through the LWVWA Legislative Action Newsletter, distributed each Sunday during the legislative session.
  • Local Leagues in Washington have action chairs who coordinate action teams. Some local Leagues have health care teams to take action locally. Contact your local League action chair to find out more and get involved.
  • You may also express your opinion on legislation with the LWVWA issue chairs. We welcome your perspectives as we determine our support for legislation and prepare testimony for the session. Contact Jody Disney, Health Care Issue Chair or Tressa Kentner, Health Care Advocate.
  • Please work with LWVWA issue chairs and become involved with our Health Care Affinity group. If you are interested, please email Kim Abbey for the date of the next meeting and a link.

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