Monthly Archives: March 2017

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    State Democrats: GOP’s failure to repeal/replace ACA offers hope for many Washingtonians

State Democrats: GOP’s failure to repeal/replace ACA offers hope for many Washingtonians

March 24th, 2017|

The inability of congressional Republicans to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is good news for Washingtonians, Democratic state lawmakers said today. The scheduled vote on the federal legislation stalled for a lack of support Thursday from moderate Republicans who feel the proposed GOP alternative is too harsh and from conservative Republicans who feel it is too generous. Though Republicans had rescheduled the vote for today, it was canceled when GOP leaders realized it would not pass.

“We’ve been preparing for the worst at the state level, drafting legislation to help backfill losses in coverage if the ACA is repealed, and urging our state’s congressional delegation to do whatever they can to preserve coverage for Washingtonians,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, the ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “If Congress is unable to repeal and replace the ACA, a lot of very vulnerable Washingtonians will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

Cleveland and Rep. Eileen Cody, the chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, have coordinated their caucuses’ state-level efforts to help Washingtonians retain access to health care if the ACA is repealed and replaced with the Republicans’ lesser proposal, the somewhat similarly named American Health Care Act (AHCA). They also credited the congressional delegation’s receptiveness when asked to work on behalf of Washingtonians’ health care access.

“The health care of more than 600,000 Washingtonians is at stake,” said Cody, a West Seattle Democrat. “Hundreds of thousands of people across our state have better care and have more secure futures thanks to the ACA. Under the TrumpCareLess Plan, all of those people could lose their access to care and that cannot be allowed.”

Cleveland, a Vancouver Democrat, said seniors are especially at risk.

“Under the Republicans’ plan, seniors could see their health care premiums rise to as much as five times what younger Americans pay,” Cleveland said. “The AHCA would also reopen the so-called donut hole,” she said, referring to a gap in coverage that left many seniors unable to afford expensive medications critical to their health. “Since the ACA closed the donut hole, 60,000 seniors have saved an average of $718 on annual drug purchases.”

Other aspects of the AHCA would eliminate aspects of the ACA that mandate the benefits participating insurers must cover — such as mental health treatment, wellness visits, and maternity and newborn care — and bar companies from setting insurance rates based on a person’s sex, medical condition, genetic condition or other factors.

“Until a viable alternative is put forward that puts patient access to care first, we will continue to work at the state level to protect the hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who rely on the ACA for health care,” Cody said. “We agree that there are changes that could improve delivery of care affordability, but we believe working collaboratively on refining the ACA is a better option than the TrumpCareLess plan.”

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    Cleveland amendment would apply equal pay rules to state contractors

Cleveland amendment would apply equal pay rules to state contractors

March 24th, 2017|

State contractors employed by numerous state agencies would have to observe the requirements of the Senate’s proposed Equal Pay Opportunity Act as a result of an amendment adopted into the Senate’s proposed operating budget late Thursday.

“Pay inequity has economic consequences that extend far beyond gender,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the author of the amendment. “When a company discriminates on pay, it’s not just the employee who is short-changed; it’s everyone in that household. Even the larger community suffers, as smaller paychecks lead to a smaller tax base and less economic vitality.”

Cleveland’s amendment mirrors the requirements of her proposed Senate Bill 5140, which would update the state’s Equal Pay Act to ensure that Washingtonians who perform similar duties for the same employer must be compensated as equals.

“In many workplaces, for the same work as men, white women make 78 cents to the man’s dollar,” Cleveland said. “Latinas make 55 cents compared to men, African American women make 64 cents, Native women make 60 cents and native Hawaiian and Pacific Island women make 66 cents.”

Cleveland’s amendment would apply to businesses who have contracts with the state Health Care Authority (HCA) and the state departments of Commerce, Dept. of Corrections, Early Learning, Enterprise Services (DES), and Social and Health Services, which covers $1.6 billion in goods and services purchased by the state.

“This is one more step forward, and a valuable one,” Cleveland said, “but we must continue this fight until true pay equality is achieved for everyone.”

Cleveland: The only path forward is across a new I-5 bridge

March 9th, 2017|

The Vancouver Business Journal today published an op-ed in which I make the case for a new bistate bridge connecting Vancouver to Portland. You can read the op-ed here.

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    Cleveland: Levy cliff bill ‘removes a monstrous cloud’ over schools

Cleveland: Levy cliff bill ‘removes a monstrous cloud’ over schools

March 8th, 2017|

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued this statement today following the Senate’s passage of legislation to postpone the so-called levy cliff that would have resulted in massive budget cuts to K-12 schools across the state.
“The passage of this legislation should provide long-sought and much-needed relief and reassurance to K-12 schools throughout our district and across our state. I know how much this means to the Vancouver and Evergreen school districts. This removes a monstrous cloud over this school year and next.
“Our educators can now concentrate on educating instead of doomsday budgets. Our teachers can now concentrate on teaching instead of layoff notices. And, most important of all, our students can concentrate on what’s going on inside their classrooms instead of what’s going on outside them.
“At the same time, the Legislature can concentrate fully on the larger task of funding our public schools, fully and fairly and in a sustainable structure.”