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

General News This Week

During the week of March 8-13, 2021 the committee hearings in the opposite houses will continue in both the House and Senate. League of Women Voters advocacy in Health Care issues this week will be primarily emailing your own three legislators to support the following bills. Some bills need to be pulled from House and Senate Rules Committees by end of day on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. If your own legislator sits on a Rules Committee, contact them if you support these bills.                                                                                                         

Bills Needing Action This Week

HB 1007 Concerning the completion of supervised experience for social worker students through distance supervision. Sponsor: Rep. Klippert.                                                                                                   

 Take action this week: Passed by a vote on the House floor and is now in the Senate. Scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care on March 10, 2021 at 8:00 AM. You may sign up to give oral or written testimony.


HB 1141 Increasing access to the death with dignity act. Sponsor: Rep. Rude.

Makes changes to the 2009 Death with Dignity Act, mainly changes ‘physician’ to ‘qualified medical provider’. Hospice care is increasingly provided by advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants, especially in rural areas. Eliminates the 15-day waiting period and reduces it to 72 hours. A contract employer may not prevent a health care provider from participating in Death with Dignity Act of 2009 so long as they act independently and at a location that is not on the hospital facility premises.

 Take action this week: Passed on a House floor vote on February 25, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. Contact your own senator if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled. 

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. 

 Take action this week: Passed on a Senate floor vote on February 25, 2021. Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Mar 10, 2021 at 8:00 AM. You may sign up to give oral or written testimony.                Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Mar 11, 2021 at 10:00 AM. Contact your own representatives if they sit on that committee to request a yes vote.


SB 5140
 Protecting pregnancy and miscarriage-related patient care.
 Sponsor: Sen. Patty Kurderer. The Protecting Pregnant Patients Act would prevent hospital policies from restricting qualified medical providers from providing necessary miscarriage treatment and care for patients whose lives are at risk due to pregnancy complications.


 Take action this week: Passed on a Senate floor vote on February 17, 2021 and has had a first reading in the House Health and Wellness Committee on February 24, 2021. Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 10:00 AM. You may sign up to give oral or written testimony. If your legislator sits on the House Committee on Health and Wellness, or is a sponsor, contact them to tell them you support this bill.   


SB 5203
:
 Producing, distributing, and purchasing generic prescription drugs. Sponsor: Sen. Van Der Wege. 

Allows the Health Care Authority (HCA) to enter into partnerships with other states, state agencies, or nonprofit entities to produce, distribute, or purchase generic prescription drugs. 

 Take action this week: Passed out of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and and passed on a floor vote in the Senate. This bill will now move to the House.

SB 5377 Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market. Sponsor: Sen. Frockt. 

Subsidies are an effective way to address affordability and can be implemented for next year's plan. The Health Care Authority needs more tools to control costs for public option plans.


 Take action this week: Passed on a Senate floor vote on March 3, 2021 and has had a first reading in the House Health and Wellness Committee. Contact your own representatives if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.



SB 5399 Concerning the creation of a universal health care commission. Sponsor: Sen. Randall and 16 co-sponsors. The universal health care commission is established to develop a plan to be implemented by 2026, that will provide comprehensive, equitable, and affordable health care coverage under a publicly financed and privately and publicly delivered health care system to all state residents.


 Take action this week: Passed on a Senate floor vote on March 2, 2021 and has had a first reading in the House Health and Wellness Committee on March 4, 2021. Contact your own representatives if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.

Other Bills We Support

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


Health Care

HB 1152: Supporting measures to create comprehensive public health districts. Sponsor: Rep. Riccelli.

Requested by the Office of the Governor. A work group is created to develop and recommend to the secretary a public health system to provide foundational public health services to all people in Washington through comprehensive public health districts and the department. 

Current: Passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and referred to House Rules Committee. If you have a legislator who sits on the House Rules email them to let them know you support this bill no later than Tuesday, March 9, 2021. If not pulled from the House Rules committee by then, this bill cannot move this year.


HB 1225 Concerning school-based health centers. Sponsor: Rep. Stonier. School-based health centers are beneficial to students and families in school districts that are geographically isolated from health care providers. High school students in particular may benefit from SBHCs that provide reliable access to mental and behavioral health services.

Current:  Passed on a House floor vote on February 26, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on March 2, 2021. Contact your own senator if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.


HB 1272 Concerning health system transparency. Sponsor: Rep. Macri. Requires that hospitals provide detailed information regarding several identified categories of expenses and revenues in financial reports to the Department of Health.                                                                                              

Current: Passed on a House floor vote on February 25, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on March 1, 2021. Contact your own senator if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.


HB 1316 Concerning the hospital safety net assessment. Sponsor: Rep. Cody. Continues to allow revenues from the Hospital Safety Net Assessment program to be used in lieu of State General Fund payments for Medicaid hospital services through the 2023-25 biennium.

Current: Voted unanimously out the House Committee on Appropriations and is in House Rules. If you have a legislator who sits on House Rules, email them to let them know you support this bill no later than Tuesday, March 9, 2021. If not pulled from the House Rules committee by then, this bill cannot move this year.
 

HB 1323 Concerning the long-term services and supports trust program. Sponsor: Rep. Tharinger. 

In May 2019 the Governor signed a law, creating the nation’s first Long Term Care Trust by Jan. 2021. This HB 1323 is necessary to define details for workers enrolled in the Long Term Care Trust and outlines the roles of the Health Care Authority, the DSHS, and the Employment Security Department who will collaborate to manage the program.

Current:  Passed on a House floor vote on February 23, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on February 25, 2021. Contact your own senator if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.

SB 5052 Concerning the creation of health equity zones. Sponsor: Sen. Keiser. 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. 

CurrentPassed on a Senate floor vote on February 26, 2021 and has had a first reading in the House Health and Wellness Committee on March 2, 2021. Contact your own representatives if they sit on that committee to request that a public hearing be scheduled.

Behavioral Health

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.

Current:  Passed by a vote on the House floor and is now in the Senate. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care on Mar 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM. If your legislator sits on that committee, or is a sponsor, contact them to tell them know you support this bill.

HB 1086Creating the state office of behavioral health consumer advocacy. Sponsor: Rep. Simmons.

By January 1, 2022, the department shall contract with a private nonprofit organization to provide the State Office of Behavioral Health Consumer Advocacy Services (SOBHCA).

Current: Passed on a House floor vote on March 1, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on March 4, 2021. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care on Mar 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM in anticipation of other legislative action. You may sign in to give oral or written testimony. 

HB1325 Implementing policies related to children and youth behavioral health. Sponsor: Rep. Callan. Establishes the Partnership Access Line (PAL) for Moms and the Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens as ongoing programs.           

Current: Passed on a House floor vote on February 26, 2021 and has had a first reading in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on March 2, 2021. Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care on Mar 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM in anticipation of other legislative action. You may sign in to give oral or written testimony.


HB 1477
 
Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services. Sponsor: Rep. Orwall. 

Current: Passed out of the House Appropriations Committee and is now in House Rules. If you have a legislator who sits on the House Rules email them to let them know you support this bill no later than Tuesday, March 9, 2021. If not pulled from the House Rules committee by then, this bill cannot move this year.

SB 5071: Creating transition teams to assist specified persons under civil commitment. Sponsor: Sen. Dhingra. This bill would require the court to specify the name of a behavioral health agency responsible for supervising the outpatient release of a person who has been civilly committed following a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Current:  Passed unanimously on the Senate floor and has had a first reading in the House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary. If you have a legislator who sits on that committee write to them to request that a public hearing be scheduled. 


SB 5073
Concerning involuntary commitment. Sponsor: Sen. Dhingra. This bill would expand requirements for court-ordered involuntary outpatient behavioral health treatment and modify requirements for Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA) treatment.

Current: Passed on the Senate floor on February 3, 2021 and had a first reading in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee on February 8, 2021. If you have a legislator who sits on that committee write to them to request that a public hearing be scheduled. 


SB 5074
 Establishing safe station pilot programs.

This bill allows participating fire departments to be designated as "safe stations." These safe stations would provide basic evaluation by mental health professionals, substance use disorder professionals to connect patients to treatment support and services. A certified substance use disorder peer specialist may be employed in a Safe Station pilot program.

Current:  Passed unanimously by a vote on the Senate floor on February 24, 2021 and has had a first reading in the House Committee on Health and Wellness on February 26, 2021. If you have a legislator who sits on that committee write to them to request that a public hearing be scheduled. 


SB 5195
 
Concerning prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication. Sponsor: Sen. Liias - 
A practitioner shall provide a current prescription for an opioid overdose reversal medication when the patient presents in an emergency department with an opioid overdose.

Current: Passed out of Senate Ways and Means and passed on floor vote in the Senate and will now move to the House.


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. 

Current:  Passed by a vote on the floor and has had a first reading in the  Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on February 25, 2021. If you have a legislator who sits on that committee write to them to request that a public hearing be scheduled.


Bills the League Opposes

HB 1008 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.


Bills the League is watching for 2022

HB 1047 Requiring coverage for hearing instruments for children and adolescents. Sponsor: Rep. Emily Wicks and 18 co-sponsors.

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. 

CurrentThis bill has not had a public hearing in this session. Write a direct email to Rep. Wicks asking that she bring up this bill in the 2022 session. If your own legislator was a co-sponsor write to thank them.

HB 1499: Providing behavioral health system responses to individuals with substance use disorder. The Pathways to Recovery Act (1) increases funding for substance use disorder treatment and recovery programs, (2) adopts a public health-based approach by eliminating penalties for personal use drug offenses and connecting people with services to address the root causes of their substance use disorder, and (3) expands resources for statewide education about substance use.

Current:  Write an email to Rep. Lauren Davis requesting to bring up this bill in 2022.

SB 5020  Assessing a penalty on unsupported prescription drug price increases. Sponsor: Sen. Keiser.

This bill would allow a penalty to drug manufacturers who increase drug prices without providing new clinical evidence.

Current: This bill was not heard in the Senate Ways and Means committee by the fiscal cut-off. Contact Sen. Keiser to request that this bill be reintroduced in 2022.

SB 5142 Establishing the profession of dental therapist. Sponsor: Sen. Frockt and 10 co-sponsors. Adding the Dental Therapist to the dental team will address racial and ethnic disparities in urban and rural dental health care. 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.    

Current: This bill did not receive a public hearing in the 2021 session. Write or email Sen. Frockt asking that he bring up this bill again in the 2022 session. If your own legislator was a co-sponsor write to thank them.

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 and request a waiver from the federal government to create universal health care in Washington.                                                 

Current: This bill did not receive a public hearing in the 2021 session. Write or email Sen. Hasagawa asking that he bring up this bill again in the 2022 session. If your own legislator was a co-sponsor write to thank them. 

Go to wholewashington.org for more information. 

SB 5335 Concerning the acquisition of health care facilities and mergers. Sponsor: Sen. Randall.   

Current: Write or email Sen. Randall asking that she bring up this bill again in the 2022 session. If your own legislator was a co-sponsor write to thank them. 


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 and ending with a wrap up in May, 2021.
  • Educate yourself about hospital mergers, Hospital districts, protecting patient care, certificates of need, and Ethical and Religious Directives at religious hospitals. At the link above you can learn about actions to take, useful information about letter writing campaigns, and articles of interest. SB 5335 regarding hospital mergers will be reintroduced in 2022.
  • 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. The first meetings were on Sept. 29, 2020 and January 16, 2021. We will meet again in May 2021 at the end of the session to discuss successes.

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