News Release

Legislature passes capital budget prioritizing homelessness, environment, school construction

March 12th, 2020|

The Legislature passed a supplemental capital budget that makes strong investments in housing, shelter, environmental cleanup and school construction.

The budget first passed yesterday in the state House of Representatives on a unanimous vote, then passed the state Senate today on a unanimous vote.

“Our capital budget continues our strong investments in housing, homelessness and behavioral health,” said Senate capital budget lead Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). “Schools around the state will receive significant funding, as will many of our colleges and universities. Supplemental budges are always much smaller than in main budget years, but the funds we’re investing will go a long way in improving the lives of Washingtonians.”

“This is about tackling emerging needs, including the housing and homelessness crisis, behavioral health and child care,” said House capital budget lead Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend). “It’s a bipartisan budget that will create jobs and build a better future for people in every corner of the state of Washington.”

The budget invests $13.8 million to help alleviate homelessness, with $7.8 million dedicated to improving shelter capacity around the state. A new competitive grant program for the development of community housing to assist people experiencing homelessness receives $5 million, and the remaining $1 million goes to a pilot project to preserve manufactured and mobile homes.

These investments in housing and alleviating homelessness compliment a $160 million investment included in the supplemental operating budget. The investments also build upon last year’s biennial capital budget, which invested record sums in housing and behavioral health treatment facilities.

The budget invests $33.7 million in toxics cleanup, using funds generated by a measure passed during the 2019 legislative session. This bill sponsored by Frockt changed the way petroleum companies are taxed under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). An additional $5 million in MTCA revenue is provided in the budget to assist local government with stormwater projects.

School construction projects receive $25.9 million statewide, and an additional $13.2 million is included for seismic safety improvements in K-12 schools.

The following distressed school grants are also included in the supplemental capital budget

  • $700,000 at John Muir Elementary School in Seattle Public Schools for a two-classroom preschool addition
  • $300,000 at Lowell Elementary School in Seattle Public Schools for conversion of two classrooms to a new health clinic
  • $328,000 for an agricultural resource center in Tacoma Public Schools
  • $200,000 for Tacoma Schoolyard Park in Tacoma Public Schools
  • $309,000 for a school-based health center at a Port Orchard school in South Kitsap School District
  • $100,000 for predesign and scoping work for a high school replacement project in Republic
  • $1million for a project in the Mount Adams School District

A list of school modernization grants can be found here.

In early learning, the capital budget invests $4.2 million in matching grants and loans to purchase, construct, or modernize facilities. An additional $3 million is provided for specific projects.

Higher education investments include:

  • $20 million for the first phase of the Spokane Falls Community College fine and applied arts facility.
  • $4 million for design of the life sciences building at the Washington State University Vancouver campus.
  • $1 million for predesign of the Magnuson Health Sciences replacement facility at the University of Washington.

Senate passes bill increasing Medicaid rates

February 18th, 2020|

A bill passed Monday by the Washington State Senate would expand access to Washington’s health care system by increasing Medicaid rates.

Senate Bill 6676, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt and Sen. Emily Randall, increases the Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care providers to at least 15 percent above the medical assistance rates in effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Reimbursement rates for pediatric critical care, neonatal critical care, and neonatal intensive care providers must be at least 21 percent above the medical assistance rates in effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

The bill also requires the Health Care Authority to direct Medicaid managed care plans to increase primary care rates through adoption of a uniform rate increase for network providers.

“In recent years many practices in both the adult and the pediatric space have stopped taking Apple Health clients,” said Frockt (D-Seattle). “This limits and delays the care available to these vulnerable populations.  Our goal is to stem the tide and expand access to the care that is so necessary for Washingtonians to live long, healthy lives.”

“Medicaid expansion saved my family. When my sister was born with severe disabilities, Medicaid alone allowed her to get the care she needed,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton). “That early experience — and stories from families like mine who depend on Apple Health, our state’s Medicaid program — inspire me every day. They’re why I was proud to introduce SB 6128, expanding post-partum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 365 days, and why I’m so proud to be a sponsor of 6676, ensuring that the doctors who provide essential primary care services are able to continue doing so.  We are all striving to ensure that Washingtonians have reliable, secure coverage that gives them the peace of mind to care for themselves and their families.”

SB 6676 passed with a unanimous vote.

The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

 

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    Frockt bill would address barriers to important medical care

Frockt bill would address barriers to important medical care

January 31st, 2020|

Many Washingtonians and their doctors have been forced to argue with insurance companies about what procedures are covered by their plans. Senate Bill 6404, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), would address that problem, removing barriers to important medical care.

“Virtually everyone I know, and every doctor I have ever spoken with, has had the experience of having necessary medical procedures denied or delayed by an insurance company due to prior authorization,” Frockt said. “Who hasn’t had the experience of arguing for hours on the phone with insurance companies, writing letters, and sending emails? This wastes time and money, and adds stress for those who need care and for doctors who know what their patients need.”

SB 6404 was heard Friday morning in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.

The bill requires insurance carriers to submit certain information related to prior authorization practices to the state insurance commissioner, and requires the commissioner to adopt rules on prior authorization standards.

The measure also establishes a work group to review prior authorization standards and to recommend improvements.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted each year through this process,” Frockt said. “This bill is about providing more transparency to these insurance practices for which we have virtually no data, and moving us toward a day when routine and necessary care is not needlessly delayed or made more stressful for those receiving care and those delivering it.”