Ensuring Social Justice
Health Care, Behavioral Health, & Reproductive Rights

Ensure affordable and accessible health care for all.

Issue Chair: Kim Abbey, kabbey@lwvwa.org, (206) 387-6134
 DOWNLOAD the Health Care Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 

Right Now in Health Care, Behavioral Health, and Reproductive Rights

(Interested in the 2020 Session Recap? Click Here)

General News This Week

Public Hearings before the House Health and Wellness Committee and the Senate Health and Long-term Care Committee began hearing public testimony on health care, behavioral health, and reproductive rights using virtual methods. This allows testimony to be heard from citizens and League members with no need to visit Olympia. Knowing your own three legislators and what committees they sit on is important. Be engaged, learn the steps, and advocate.

Bills Needing Action This Week

SB 5142 Establishing the profession of dental therapist. Sponsor: Sen. Frockt
Adding the Dental Therapist to the dental team will address racial and ethnic disparities in urban and rural health care access gaps. Dental therapists are also a strategy to increase workforce diversity in health care and expand career opportunities for existing members of the dental care workforce.

 Take action this week: Contact Sen. Cleveland, Chair of Senate Health and LTC Committee to request that she schedule a Public Hearing for this Dental Therapist bill. If your own senator sits on the committee, it will be very helpful to contact them.

SB 5068 Improving maternal health outcomes by extending coverage during the postpartum period. Sponsor: Sen. Randall
Postpartum Medicaid coverage currently ends 60 days after pregnancy. Extending health care coverage through the first year postpartum is one of the best tools for increasing access to care and improving maternal and infant health. The Health Care Authority must submit a waiver request to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to allow for the state to receive federal match for the coverage of postpartum persons.

 Take action this week: Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care on Wednesday, Jan 20 at 8:00 AM. Please register to make written or oral testimony.

HB 1047  Requiring coverage for hearing instruments for children and adolescents. Sponsor: Rep. Emily Wicks.
A health carrier offering a health plan issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, must include coverage for hearing instruments for persons who are 18 years of age or younger with refitting every 36 months. Coverage must include the hearing instrument, the initial assessment, fitting, adjustment, auditory training, and ear molds as necessary to maintain optimal fit. This bill has 19 co-sponsors already.

 Take action this week: Contact Rep. Cody, Chair of the House Health and Wellness Committee, and request that she schedule this bill for a Public Hearing.

SB 5204 Creating the Whole Washington Health Trust. Sponsor: Sen. Hasagawa and six co-sponsors.
The Whole Washington Health Trust is created within the Department of Health. The purpose of the trust is to provide coverage for a set of essential health benefits to all Washington residents.
First reading, Jan 14, referred to Health & Long Term Care.

 Take action this week: Write to Sen. Cleveland to request that she schedules this bill for a Public Hearing.

Other Bills We Support

Click to jump to sub-section: Health Care  |  Behavioral Health  |  Reproductive Rights

Health Care

SB 5140 Protecting pregnancy and miscarriage-related patient care. Sponsor: Sen. Patty Kurderer
If a health care provider is acting within the provider's scope of practice, education, training, and experience, a Hospital Board may not prohibit the health care provider from providing health care services related to miscarriage management and treatment for ectopic pregnancies, in cases in which failure to provide the service would violate the accepted standard of care or when the patient presents a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to pose a risk to the patient's life or irreversible complications or impairment to the patient's fertility.

 STATUS UPDATE: Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8:00 AM

HB 1052 Concerning group insurance contract performance standards. Sponsor: Rep. Jessica Bateman.
A very technical bill that, if passed, will require a group insurance contract that includes performance standards, the standards must be described in the group insurance contract and filed with the Insurance Commissioner. The Insurance Commissioner may adopt rules to implement these provisions on performance standards. Requested by the Health Care Authority.

 STATUS UPDATEPublic Hearing was on Thursday, Jan. 13 and Exec. Comm. on Jan. 14.

HB 1141 Increasing access to the death with dignity act.
Makes changes to the 2009 Death with Dignity Act, mainly changes ‘physician’ to ‘qualified medical provider’. Nothing prevents a health care provider from participating in Death with Dignity Act of 2009 while acting outside the course and scope of the provider's capacity as an employee or independent contractor and while at a location that is not on the hospital facility premises. The Department of Health shall develop a simple and clear form to be submitted by hospitals. The form must provide the public with specific information about which end of life-services are prohibited at each hospital. The form must include contact information for the hospital in case patients have specific questions about services available at the hospital.

 STATUS UPDATEScheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Monday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 PM. Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Jan. 20 at 8:00 AM.

SB 5020  Assessing a penalty on unsupported prescription drug price increases. Sponsor: Sen. Keiser.
Unsupported drug prices means an increase in price for a prescription drug for which there was no, or inadequate, new clinical evidence to support the price increase. This bill would allow a penalty to drug manufacturers who increase drug prices without providing such evidence.

 STATUS UPDATEScheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care Jan 22 at 8:00 AM.

SB 5088 Addressing a shortage of primary care services by increasing the scope of practice of naturopathic physicians.
Naturopathic physicians provide appropriate primary care services consistent with their education and patient populations. They need authority for all appropriate primary care services.
This act supports better patient care, prevents duplication of services, reduces emergency department visits, and is more cost-effective for patients, health plans, and state agencies. Naturopathic medical training emphasizes behavioral health, counseling, and lifestyle medicine in addition to conventional medical diagnostics and treatments, including pharmaceutical prescriptions.

 STATUS UPDATE: Not scheduled for a public hearing as of Jan. 15.

SB 5052 Concerning the creation of health equity zones. Sponsor: Sen. Keiser.
"Health equity zone" means a contiguous geographic area that demonstrates measurable and documented health disparities and poor health outcomes, which may include but are not limited to high rates of maternal complications, newborn health complications, and chronic and infectious disease, is populated by communities of color or immigrant communities, and is small enough for targeted interventions to have a significant impact on health outcomes and health disparities. The state intends to work with community leaders within the health equity zones to share information and coordinate efforts with the goal of addressing the most urgent needs.

 STATUS UPDATEScheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care on Monday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 PM.

Behavioral Health

HB 1182 Enhancing and expanding behavioral health and suicide prevention crisis response services. Sponsor: Rep. Orwell.
An improved system will reduce reliance on emergency room services and the use of law enforcement response to behavioral health crises and will stabilize individuals in the community whenever possible. The Department of Health shall provide adequate funding for an expected increase in the use of the state's crisis lifeline call centers using the 988 crisis hotline prior to July 16, 2022. Further equity in addressing mental health and substance use treatment and assure a culturally and linguistically competent response to behavioral health crises. This bill has a large number of co-sponsors, twenty-seven.

 STATUS UPDATE: Contact Rep. Cody to request a Public Hearing.

HB 1063  Allowing additional renewals for behavioral health professional trainee credentials. Sponsor: Rep. Paul Harris.
As the rates of mental health issues and substance use increase it behooves the state to prepare these counseling professionals to meet the need. Currently an associate license may be renewed no more than six times. If the Secretary of Health finds that a waiver to allow additional renewals is justified due to barriers to testing or training resulting from a governor-declared emergency, additional renewals may be approved.

 STATUS UPDATE: Public Hearing was on January 14, 2021.

HB 1074  Concerning overdose and suicide fatality reviews. Sponsor: Rep. Strom Peterson.
A local health department may establish multidisciplinary overdose and suicide fatality review teams to review overdose or suicide deaths and to develop strategies for the prevention of overdose and suicide fatalities.

 STATUS UPDATE: Public Hearing: January 14, 2021. Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Jan 20 at 8:00 AM.

SB 5074  Establishing safe station pilot programs.
The HCA must manage a grant program to award funding to fire departments in the state of Washington to implement Safe Station pilot programs that provides scheduled drop-in services to address and respond to substance use disorder treatment service inquiries at fire station. A certified substance use disorder peer specialist may be employed in a Safe Station pilot program.

 STATUS UPDATE: Scheduled for executive session in the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 10:30 AM.

Reproductive Rights

HB 1009  Concerning student health plans. Sponsor: Rep. My-Linh Thai.
A student health plan issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, is subject to the abortion requirements applicable to other health plans. The student health plans to which this requirement applies include student health plans deemed by the Insurance Commissioner to have a short term limited purpose or duration while the covered person is enrolled as a regular full-time undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited higher education institution. Watch the Public Hearing that was heard on January 13, 2021 on TVW. Contact your Representatives to encourage passing this bill.

 STATUS UPDATE: Public Hearing was on Thursday, Jan. 13 and Exec. Comm. on Jan. 14.

Bills the League Opposes

HB1008  Prohibiting abortion on the basis of Down syndrome. Sponsor: Sen. Klippert
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.

How You Can Be Involved
  • Subscribe to the LWVWA Legislative newsletter so that you receive it weekly on Sundays during the session starting January 10, 2021.
  • Respond to Action Alerts that are posted in the Health Care, Behavioral Health, and Reproductive Rights section under Social Justice heading on this page.
  • Educate yourself about hospital mergers, Hospital districts, protecting patient care, certificates of need, and Ethical and Religious Directives at religious hospitals. At the link below you can learn about actions to take, useful information about letter writing campaigns, and articles of interest. At this time there is no pending legislation on this matter. When you take these actions you are acting as a private citizen, not as a LWV member.
  • At your local League your members who have interest in Health law and Reproductive Rights can form an interest group to discuss actions and research health issues locally.
  • For current League members: Join the Affinity Group for Health Care legislation for sharing and discussions. Our next zoom meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 12 noon for 90 minutes. The first meeting was on Sept. 29, 2020. At the Jan. 16, 2021, meeting we will attempt to give local Leagues a time to share what they are working on.

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

League of Women Voters of the United States

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software