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    Inslee announces five carriers intend to participate in public option

Inslee announces five carriers intend to participate in public option

July 7th, 2020|

Gov. Jay Inslee announced today five insurance carriers have applied to offer public option plans in a majority of counties across the state. The first year of Cascade Care, the public option program, begins later this year with plans to start coverage on Jan. 1, 2021.

“The first-in-the-nation public option continues to move toward a successful start,” Inslee said. “Now more than ever, people need access to high quality, affordable health care, and Cascade Care offers that. I am pleased that health insurance companies, hospitals and medical providers have stepped up to offer this innovative coverage option, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We are building a solid foundation during this first year of the program and anticipate that Cascade Care will offer even more for consumers over time.”

Cascade Care has remained a priority for the governor, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the health care system. The Washington State Health Care Authority issued a competitive bid process for carriers to participate in the program during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carriers have to meet certain program requirements to be able to participate, which were laid out in the Cascade Care legislation that was passed in 2019.

“Cascade Care is a unique offering that will provide consumers with standardized benefits for more coverage options–something that’s needed in the individual insurance market” said Rep. Eileen Cody, sponsor of Cascade Care legislation.

The Cascade Care public option is offered by private insurance companies that offer standard benefits and cost-sharing at each metal level – gold, silver and bronze. The program also caps the amount health insurance carriers can pay providers for services.

“One of the key goals of this bill was to ensure predictable and reduced deductibles and co-pays for consumers,” said Sen. David Frockt, Senate sponsor of the legislation. “The standardized plans accomplish this important goal while also bringing new entrants into our individual market. I believe this effort has also put downward pressure on premiums for some non-Cascade Care plans that will now be competing against these plans – another goal of the legislation. As we deal with pandemic related loss of employer sponsored coverage, we must do everything we can to build on the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act here in Washington state in order to bring health security to our people. ”

The public option plans and rates still need to be approved by the Health Care Authority, Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the Health Benefit Exchange Board. Final approval of plans will occur in September and open enrollment begins Nov. 1, 2020.

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    Bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee holds its first meeting

Bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee holds its first meeting

June 16th, 2020|

Working people and small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the Senate Special Committee on Economic Recovery heard from a variety of experts about ways to help people and businesses recover.

The bipartisan committee focused its first meeting on a wide variety of topics, including unemployment, regional challenges, challenges faced by small businesses, short and long-term recovery strategies, supply chain issues, and much, much more.

“Solving this crisis will require us to be thoughtful, creative and resist the temptation to retreat to our ideological corners. I was encouraged by the collaborative nature of this first meeting,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) chair of the committee. “Washingtonians are suffering. Small businesses are shuttered. It’s our job to find a way back, and we can only do that together.”

The seven member committee heard from prominent economists, including Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics at Chicago University and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. Economist Betsey Stevenson, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan and former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor also under Obama. Annaliese Vance-Sherman, Labor Economist at the state Employment Security Department and Debra Glassman, Principal Lecturer of Finance and Business Economics at the University of Washington’s Dept of Finance and Business Economics also weighed in.

Frockt said that he felt there were three main takeaways from the inaugural meeting of the recovery committee.

“One, we have to get the virus under control,” he said. “A full recovery simply cannot happen while COVID-19 continues to make its way through our state. Two, we must address access to childcare. People cannot return to work if they do not have reliable, consistent childcare. And three, we must help small businesses and their workforce bounce back, particularly small businesses and workers in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”

The committee is tentatively scheduled to hold its next meeting on July 21.

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    WATCH: Sen. Frockt shares vision for economic recovery committee on TVW

WATCH: Sen. Frockt shares vision for economic recovery committee on TVW

May 14th, 2020|

Sen. David Frockt appeared on TVW’s The Impact this week to share his vision for the newly created  bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into session this year.

“If you’re not thinking about jobs in this environment, you’re not thinking about the right things,” said Frockt during the interview.

Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Senator Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. In total, the seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators will include Sens. Manka Dhingra, Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldaña. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

You can watch the full interview with The Impact here.

Coronavirus Update: April 8, 2020

April 8th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors of the 46th Legislative District,

A big thanks to all of you who are taking to heart social distancing and the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” initiative that Governor Inslee has put in place to prevent unnecessary deaths. I know these efforts have caused much stress, strain, heartache and fear but as tough as things have been for us here in our Washington, things have gotten worse in other parts of the country that were not acting as decisively early in the crisis. The evidence is that our efforts are beginning to work. Let try to pull together as a community to get us to the other side of this crisis.

And, to our health care professionals at every level, for all that you have done and are doing: Thank you. Your efforts are heroic and they will never be forgotten. Our community thanks you.

I wanted to bring to your attention more resources that I hope will help lessen some of the financial strain you’re facing, and help some of your neighbors who are in need.

Unemployment Insurance

The Employment Security Department has been receiving record numbers of new claims for unemployment insurance. At the same time, they are experiencing extremely high numbers of phone calls and emails. Additionally, we know many people have questions about the recent federal stimulus package and the enhancements to eligibility and available benefits for individuals. To address your questions and to find out more information, please do not call their toll-free numbers first. Instead, please visit their website at esd.wa.gov. There you can sign up for their action alerts to receive the most recent information possible about these benefits, view their Frequently Asked Questions for Workers and for Businesses and use their checklist before applying for benefits. Again, please do not call their toll-free numbers for information. Those need to be reserved for individuals who need assistance with their claims. Instead, check their website. It has answers to most questions you may have.

Many people are worried that they won’t be paid because they can’s get through the overloaded system.

ESD is experiencing unprecedented demand and, while hundreds of thousands have successfully filed new claims related to the COVID-19 crisis, many others have not yet been able to complete their application process. Benefits will be paid from the time people separated from their job or otherwise became eligible under the CARES Act, not from the time the application was submitted or approved.

People concerned that they will miss out on the new CARES Act benefits during the time it takes to get the system updated: 

The federal CARES Act expands unemployment assistance to those not currently eligible who have been impacted by COVID-19, and provides an additional $600 per week to all unemployment recipients through July 31, 2020. ESD is working hard to have its systems updated to reflect these changes by mid-April. The agency will then be able to make retroactive payments for both the weekly benefit amount owed as well as the additional $600 per week.

ESD Video on the CARES Act:

This video from ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine includes a lot of great information about the CARES Act and what it will do for Washingtonians.

Statewide Food Relief Fund

As the Seattle Times reported this week, a growing number of people are using food banks — and the food banks need our help meeting that demand. You can read that full article here.

Governor Jay Inslee has announced a new statewide food fund to help out. You can learn more about that program here.

Special enrollment health insurance on the Exchange

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Washington state, the Health Benefit is extending the special enrollment period for uninsured individuals by an additional 30 days.

The original special enrollment period started March 10, 2020 and was scheduled to end April 8, 2020. It will now continue through May 8, 2020.

For more health coverage information related to COVID-19 (including how households impacted by loss of coverage, job loss, and/or loss of income can access no or lost cost coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder) please visit: https://www.wahbexchange.org/coronavirus-faqs/.

Legal Assistance

The pandemic has created many new civil legal needs in Washington. Legal aid programs are ready to help low-income people and displaced workers affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Find free resources to address your legal issue:

For general information and assistance:

  • Go to Northwest Justice Project’s Know Your Rights Guide to COVID-19 Find current information on how the pandemic is impacting the court system, housing payments, public benefits, employment, insurance, debt, student loans, consumer protection, and more. The page is on org, which provides legal information and resources on many types of civil legal problems, forms and instructions for self-representation, and referral information on free legal aid services across Washington.
  • Call the CLEAR statewide hotline Depending on eligibility and type of problem, you can speak directly to a Northwest Justice Project (NJP) advocate to receive telephonic advice and assistance, limited services (i.e. negotiation or document preparation), and/or referral to an NJP regional office or other legal aid attorney.
    • Outside of King County, call 1-888-201-1014 toll-free (weekdays between 9:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.)
    • In King County, call 2-1-1 to be referred to the appropriate legal aid provider
    • Seniors (age 60 and over) statewide can also call 1-888-387-7111

For help with unemployment benefits or paid family and medical leave:

  • Contact the Unemployment Law Project (ULP) If you have been denied benefits, or have questions about your eligibility due to layoffs, reduced hours, or illness, ULP can provide free advice and representation over the phone and in multiple languages.
    • Call 206-441-9178 or toll-free at 1-888-441-9178
    • Watch a Q&A webinar on COVID-19 and unemployment

For local aid with housing, domestic violence, debt, veterans and elder care, and more:

  • Connect with your area pro bono program Attorneys continue to volunteer their services remotely, providing free clinics, advice and counsel, and referrals, through 16 local legal aid programs around the state. See the Washington State Pro Bono Council roster for service areas and contact information, or call CLEAR.

Resources for Small Businesses

There are a variety of resources available for small businesses from both the state and federal government, in the form of emergency grants, loans, debt relief and more. Our staff put together a comprehensive list of these resources that you can find here.

Washington’s Coronavirus Website

As a reminder, Washington’s best resource for accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus pandemic is the coronavirus website. I urge you to visit this website if you haven’t yet had a chance to do so.

Contact Me

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or phone. While my staff and I are practicing social distancing and working from home, we are monitoring calls that come into our Olympia office line: 360-786-7690.

Please do what you can to help one another and stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Frockt

Coronavirus Resources

March 18th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors of the 46th Legislative District,

My thoughts go out to you and your families as you work to keep yourselves and your families healthy during this coronavirus outbreak. We are all deeply saddened for the families who have suffered loss or who are currently suffering.

I’m sure that many of you are scared, worried and stressed as we all try to get through this unprecedented event. It can be hard in times like these to know where to turn, and where to find the most up-to-date and accurate information.

I wanted to share the website created by our state government to help keep all our communities informed. You can find it here: www.coronavirus.wa.gov

This website contains a wealth of information from Governor Jay Inslee’s office, our state agencies, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. I’ve included a lot of the helpful information – from tools for handling stress, to resources for our out-of-work neighbors, to tips for talking to kids. But I encourage you to explore this website for yourselves, and to pass it on to others in our community who have questions.

In addition, I have heard from many people who are being laid off from their hospitality and restaurant jobs as well as the owners of these establishments who are seeking assistance to cover payroll or otherwise maintain their business.   There is information further down on the SBA and other resources that should become available, I hope very shortly.

What to do if you are ill

If you are ill with fever and a cough or non-acute shortness of breath, stay home. If you are unsure of how to care for yourself or are concerned about your condition, call your health care provider for advice. If you feel you need to visit your doctor, call them first. Keep yourself separated from other people and animals in your home. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often.

Leave some for your neighbor – don’t buy more than you need!

Washington State’s supply chains are operating normally, yet consumers are overstocking and clearing store shelves of the items that sick neighbors, doctors, dentists and emergency response personnel need to stay safe. Health experts emphasize the best way to protect yourself from infection is through washing your hands frequently and limiting contact with others, not by overstocking certain supplies. Leave some for the folks who need them most!

Supporting affected employers and workers

State agencies have been working with federal agencies, employers and workers to support businesses and workers affected by COVID-19.

Resources for you and your family

Stopping the spread of coronavirus is an effort we all play a part in. Learn how to protect and care for yourself and your family, cope with feelings of isolation or anxiety, determine whether you or a loved one is at higher risk from COVID-19, and find resources to get the care you need.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or phone. While my staff and I are practicing social distancing and working from home, we are monitoring calls that come into our Olympia office line: 360-786-7690.

Please keep yourselves, your families and your neighbors safe and healthy.

David

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    Senate capital budget proposal prioritizes homelessness, environment and school construction

Senate capital budget proposal prioritizes homelessness, environment and school construction

February 20th, 2020|

The Senate Democrats’ proposed supplemental capital budget makes strong investments in housing, shelter, environmental cleanups and school construction.

“Supplemental capital budgets are always much smaller than in main budget years,” said Sen. David Frockt, vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “This year our budget only had $78 million in bond capacity. Nevertheless, our budget proposal spends nearly one-third of that capacity on shelter and affordable housing, reflecting Senate Democrats’ priority to assist our local partners who continue to struggle with the crisis.”

The proposal would provide $25 million to help alleviate homelessness — the largest investment of its kind ever in a supplemental capital budget. Of that funding, $15 million would go to increasing shelter capacity in areas where large numbers of people are experiencing chronic homelessness. The remaining $10 million is dedicated to maintaining affordability of existing housing.

“The supplemental capital budget we’ve proposed is a true reflection of the needs of Washington state,” said Sen. Mark Mullet, vice chair of the capital budget. “Our communities need more access to affordable housing and to shelter beds. This investment will make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

These investments build upon last year’s capital budget, which invested records sums in housing and behavioral health treatment facilities.

The proposal invests $31.2 million in toxics cleanup and stormwater assistance to local governments, 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.

School construction projects receive $58.3 million statewide, and an additional $15 million funds is included for seismic safety improvements in K-12 schools.

The full proposal can be found here. The budget will be heard at 3:30 p.m. today in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

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    Washington Conservation Voters Selects Senator David Frockt as 2019 Legislator of the Year

Washington Conservation Voters Selects Senator David Frockt as 2019 Legislator of the Year

August 26th, 2019|

Washington Conservation Voters, Washington’s political voice for the environment, is proud to announce that it has selected Senator David Frockt (D-46), as its 2019 Legislator of the Year. Sen. Frockt’s steadfast leadership earned him WCV’s highest honor. In the 2019 legislative session, he successfully led efforts to hold the state’s largest polluters accountable, invest in projects that restore habitat and promote clean air and clean water, and reduce dangerous toxic pollution in communities across the state. Sen. Frockt was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and appointed to the Senate in 2011, where he is now serving his third term.

“Sen. Frockt came to the Legislature with a deep commitment to clean energy, tackling climate change, and protecting our public lands,” said Shannon Murphy, President of Washington Conservation Voters. “From his first day in Olympia, Sen. Frockt has worked tirelessly to ensure Washington is investing in environmental protection across the state. So many of this year’s environmental wins could not have happened without his leadership.”

“In what was one of the Legislature’s most successful sessions for the environment, Sen. Frockt is responsible for a remarkable accomplishment — holding big polluters responsible to pay for cleaning up toxic sites, protecting Washingtonians’ health, and putting the state on a path toward a cleaner future,” said Darcy Nonemacher, Government Affairs Director for Washington Conservation Voters. 

Since he took office, Senator Frockt’s achievements include:

  • Reforming the landmark “polluter pay” law to reduce toxic pollution, the Model Toxics Control Act (2019)
  • Helping shepherd through passage of Washington’s landmark 100% Clean Electricity Standard (2019)
  • Securing new funding to protect working forests that support local economies and provide benefits like clean water
  • Passing a groundbreaking law to ban toxic coal tar sealants
  • Raising investments in Puget Sound and orca recovery projects 

“As Washingtonians, we are so lucky to have access to some of the most beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, and waters in the country,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). “My goal since day one has been to protect these treasures for all Washingtonians. This year, we were in a position to reform and restructure Washington’s toxic cleanup law in a way that hadn’t been done since the voters first passed it in 1988. I am deeply honored to be the Washington Conservation Voters Legislator of the Year – but our success is the result of hard work by a broad statewide coalition and all my colleagues who stepped up and took the right vote in the face of intense pressure from big oil.”

Senator Frockt is vice chair of Senate Ways & Means Committee and Capital Budget chair. He represents the 46th District, covering parts of North Seattle, Kenmore, and Lake Forest Park.

Gov. Inslee signs Cascade Care bill

May 13th, 2019|

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) released the following statement today after Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5526, which creates the Cascade Care health plan — the first public health insurance option in the nation.

“Very simply, Cascade Care is designed to lower premiums and deductibles for families and people purchasing insurance on the individual market. Washingtonians need coverage that they can use to stay healthy and to insure that they are not in financial distress if they face a serious health related event.

This important bill moves us forward in our ongoing effort to provide high quality, more affordable health insurance to every Washingtonian, and I hope it will be an example to other states on what can be done to improve their systems.”

You can learn more about Frockt’s bill here.

Interview with KIRO Radio about preventing school shootings

May 9th, 2019|

A segment about Sen. David Frockt’s SB 5027, a bill to help prevent school shootings, was featured May 8 on The Dave Ross Show. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill earlier this week, on the same day another tragic school shooting occurred in Colorado.

Frockt told reporter Hanna Scott that his bill could save lives.

The bill clarifies the application of extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) to minors, and is designed to keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill allows for people to apply for ERPOs for people under the age of 18. If court approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

You can hear the full segment here.

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    Inslee signs Frockt bill designed to help prevent school shootings

Inslee signs Frockt bill designed to help prevent school shootings

May 7th, 2019|

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today to update Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) statute so that it’s more applicable to minors.

Senate Bill 5027 was sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). The terms of the bill came at the unanimous recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim after the shooting in Parkland, Fla. and school shooting incidents in Washington. 

“We are unfortunately raising a generation of children who are the lockdown generation, who are used to active shooter drills,” Frockt said. “We’re trying to prevent these shootings through a variety of avenues, including better threat assessment, improved social and emotional supports and by removing access to weapons from the equation for those exhibiting threats to classmates.”

The bill clarifies the application of ERPOs to minors, and is designed to keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill allows for people to apply for ERPOs for people under the age of 18. If court approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

The Mass Shooting Workgroup, comprised of representatives from all parts of Washington, heard extensively about how the ERPO process can and should be applied when warranted, and that it should be extended to these youth with notification to their parents or guardians.  This common sense measure drew bipartisan support in the Senate.

According to a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, shooters exhibited warning signs indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others before shooting in about half of all mass shootings.

“We know that in the majority of cases, school shooters obtain firearms from their homes, or the homes of a friend or a relative,” Frockt said. “We know that these troubled teens often exhibit warning signs. This bill addresses both of those trends by making sure that minors who are in crisis don’t have easy access to guns.”

Background

Frockt introduced the original ERPO statute as a bill in 2015. After the legislation stalled for two years, Washington voters enacted an ERPO initiative in 2016, with an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote. The measure had strong support in nearly every corner of the state.

Washington was the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Nine other states have since passed similar measures. The ERPO statute allows people to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms if that person poses a significant danger to themselves or others.