February 2020 Legislative Update!


This legislative session has been a cascade (pun possibly intended) of health care legislation moving through committees.  The floodgates have opened, Health Care for All-Washington is here for it, and we are seeing fantastic results! We are so excited!

HCFA-WA’s legislative priority for this session is to focus on bringing down the costs of life-saving drugs in our state, especially insulin. 

We are in the midst of actively promoting four core healthcare bills which align with insulin and drug cost proposals we’ve brought to legislators.  We’ve explained them here.

We can’t stress enough the importance of building relationships with legislators and seeking bipartisan common ground as factors in the success of getting our bills sponsored and moving them forward through the legislative process.  Legislators respond to powerful personal testimony at hearings and to your directly contacting them via email in support of these bills.  THANK YOU!

WHAT YOU CAN DO NEXT

  1.     Please thank the committee members here for supporting our bills. Attach the image above to your Thank You email by right clicking on the image, select copy, and then right click in the body of the email and select paste.
  2.     Stay tuned to HCFA-WA (Facebook, Email, website) because we will need your stories, testimony and direct contacts soon for the floor votes on these bills coming up in the next few weeks.
  3.     Support our work with your contribution.

Here’s a summary of the successes so far with these bills.


INSULIN AFFORDABILITY BILLS

HB 2662 (House) and SB 6087 (Senate) Both bills passed out of their committees with bipartisan support. HB 2662 passed the Health Care and Wellness Committee unanimously.  HB 2662 is now on the House floor calendar!  SB 6087 is in the Senate Rules committee, where we are working to advance it to the Senate floor calendar. The “floor calendar” means it is on a list to be voted on by the full body, either the House or the Senate. To be clear, not all the bills on the floor calendar actually get a vote, so the involvement of grassroots supporters can really make a difference!

Check out the powerful testimony of diabetes patients and their families at the hearing for SB 6087 here (video cued to 1:02) and click here to watch HCFA-WA's testimony with Sherry Weinberg, Marcia Stedman, and Ronnie Shure. And don't miss Crosscut's article featuring HCFA-WA's President Marcia Stedman! 

SB 6113 Central Insulin Purchasing. The bill passed with strong support in the Health and Long Term Care and Ways and Means committees.  It’s now in the Senate Rules Committee for second reading and we are also pushing hard to get it on the floor calendar.

★ ★ ★ These bills would improve the lives of nearly 800,000 Washingtonians with Diabetes ★ ★ ★


PRESCRIPTION DRUG AFFORDABILITY REVIEW BOARD

SB 6088 This has our support because a drug review board is a component of our Washington Health Security Trust bill, HB 1104. It passed the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee with strong support, as well as Ways and Means, and is now on the Senate floor calendar!


OTHER HEALTHCARE BILLS OF INTEREST

Our lobbyist Cindi Laws is also tracking several other healthcare bills and is keeping the policy team abreast of developments:   

  • HB 2679: nonprofit health carriers, which would use “excess” premiums charged by nonprofit health insurance companies to provide funding for individuals who are not eligible for federal insurance subsidies, and for foundational public health services. This bill is on the House floor calendar. 
  • HB 2464: protects patients from excess prescription medication charges. As an example, the consumer with a covered prescription medication would pay the lesser of the co-pay or the amount the medication would cost if it was purchased without using  insurance or discounts. This is a Republican-sponsored bill that has unanimous support. This bill has also made it onto the House floor calendar.

Several noteworthy bills did not advance and are at the end of the road for this Session. They include:

  •     HB 2615 and SB 6413: a primary care collaborative, an advisory group to recommend ways to optimize the use of primary care to enhance care and reduce cost. 
  •     SB 6110 and 6111 facilitating purchase of less expensive drugs from Canada.  
  •     HB 2821, HB 2901, HB 2779 and SB 6451 address the problem of health insurance premium costs

Our Short Session Work: Building Towards Inevitability

From HCFA-WA Board Member Kelly Powers:  “To make the most of this short legislative session in Olympia, we are building towards the inevitability of universal health care. That’s why HCFA-WA supports bills that would control pharmaceutical costs, bills that would allow for dental therapists, and would strengthen Washington’s rural hospitals and community clinics. We need to continue to inventory the things that are working, make lists of what we will need, fill in any gaps, and show all legislators that there is a path to universal health care and with their help, we are on it.

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