Monthly Archives: March 2014

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    Keiser on ACA: ‘Better off than we were four years ago? Yes!’

Keiser on ACA: ‘Better off than we were four years ago? Yes!’

March 31st, 2014|

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent and an instrumental lawmaker in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the state level, issued this statement today:

“Today is the deadline for signing up for coverage through the state exchange, and we’re just one week removed from the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. So an obvious question begs asking: ‘Are we better off than we were four years ago?’ Well, I’m happy to report that the answer for tens of thousands of Washingtonians is a resounding ‘Yes!’ It’s been a long journey to achieve real reform of a broken health care system where sick people were often dropped from their insurance into medical bankruptcy and tens of thousands of Washingtonians died for lack of health care.

“I worked hard to lead the charge to implement the ACA in our state, an effort that required years of difficult and often frustrating work. Although the ACA has made health coverage more accessible and affordable, its implementation was resisted by no small number of my colleagues, often for purely political reasons. As recently as last year, no fewer than 16 Republicans in our Senate voted to try to block the expansion of Medicaid in our state.

“So it’s been a tough fight to get to where we are today. But when I see the vast numbers of Washingtonians who are benefiting from it, that fight was more than worth the effort. More than half a million Washingtonians have been able to enroll in health care plans and expanded Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act. That means healthier households and healthier communities, as well as lower health care costs for other Washingtonians whose rates had been inflated to absorb the expensive emergency room visits of uninsured neighbors.

“Across our state and across our country, the growth of health care costs is down to its slowest rate in 50 years. Countless households that had been unable to afford health care now have coverage. Free preventive care for vital services such as mammograms and contraception, previously unavailable to many, is now a given. Seniors are saving precious dollars every month on the lowered cost of prescription drugs.

“These are the differences we see every day. Less obvious to the eye, but no less obvious to those who experienced it, are the untold number of households that no longer live in constant fear that they might be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-pocket costs. Because the ACA prevents insurers from placing dollar limits on the care you can receive, or rejecting you for pre-existing conditions, or charging you more because you’re a woman or a cancer survivor.

“For years, deep-pocketed opponents of the ACA have often drowned out the benefits of the ACA with a nonstop noise machine of distortions, exaggerations and even outright lies. Today, as more and more people experience the true benefits of the ACA, they are learning the truth — and seeing why the Affordable Care Act is the biggest health care reform for middle-class Americans since Medicare was enacted in 1965.”

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    Keiser legislation to create Alzheimer’s plan signed into law

Keiser legislation to create Alzheimer’s plan signed into law

March 27th, 2014|

Alzheimer’s patients and their families will benefit from the adoption of best practices and other services as a result of legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 6124, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, calls for the development of a state plan to promote cognitive health and better coordinate long-term services and support systems for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The bill passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.

“Nearly 150,000 Washingtonians and families are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and these numbers will only increase as baby boomers get older,” Keiser said. “It’s imperative that we begin a comprehensive state effort to help people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

SB 6124, which passed both chambers with bipartisan majorities, creates a working group to address:

  • policies to promote early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia;
  • ways to reduce the stigma toward those who have this disease and help those who live alone; and
  • how to coordinate approaches to dementia care and encourage best practices.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a public health epidemic. An Alzheimer’s state plan is a critical step in preparing our state to meet the needs of the thousands of Washingtonians who are, and will be, affected by this devastating disease,” said Bob Leroy, chief executive director of the state Alzheimer’s Association. “With Sen. Keiser’s leadership, broad bipartisan support and the passage of SB 6124, the important work of developing the plan can now begin.”

The working group will also explore ways to protect vulnerable adults from predatory guardians who take advantage of the elderly.

A varied and informative town hall

March 20th, 2014|

I had a very interesting time last night hosting a telephone town hall with my 33rd District seatmates in the House of Representatives, Rep. Tina Orwall and Rep. Mia Gregerson. We fielded questions on a wide range of issues from a group of more than 1,400 constituents who were on the line pretty much through the entire call. Many of the questions were about the new health care coverage through www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

tth cropped

If you’ve never participated in a telephone town hall, I urge you to try it the next time we host one. It’s easy.

The telephone town halls typically run from 6 to 7 p.m. on a pre-designated evening. Constituents can participate one of two ways: a vendor will auto-call a wide swath of constituents across the district a few minutes before the town hall begins, inviting them to stay on the line; or, if you don’t receive such a call and invitation, you can call a phone number that I’ll publicize on my webpage a week or so before the event and connect yourself. Once you’re in on the call, you can listen to the questions and answers and also ask a question.

The format is pretty flexible. You can dial in anytime and disconnect from the town hall at any time.

Keiser

 

 

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    Senate Republicans block bipartisan Capital Budget, opposing job creation and investment in state’s future

Senate Republicans block bipartisan Capital Budget, opposing job creation and investment in state’s future

March 13th, 2014|

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent and ranking member on the state Capital Budget, issued this statement today on the Senate’s failure to pass a capital budget:

“Today the Legislature failed to pass a Capital Budget for the first time since 1996. We had a strong, bipartisan Capital Budget proposal from the House that could have passed and would have built vital infrastructure and created 2,500 family wage jobs for Washingtonians. But Senate Republicans blocked it.

“Our communities have needs that cannot wait. In Moses Lake, there is a dam that is failing. It needs fixing now, not someday. There was funding in this budget for that.

“Across our state, we have mentally ill Washingtonians who need evaluation and treatment. They need it today, not someday. There was funding in this budget for that.

“This proposal would have begun the cleanup of more than 30 toxic sites around the state, including Bellingham, Pasco, Camas-Washougal, Port Angeles, Tacoma, Shelton, Bothell and Dryden. It would have improved those communities and created valuable jobs there.

“This proposal would have used debt capacity that was authorized by two-thirds of this body in last year’s budget and still left $25 million in reserve. Instead, that money will collect dust while our needs go unmet. Why was this good policy last year but not this year?

“It’s time for Republicans to stop talking about jobs and actually do something about jobs. Not minimum-wage, part-time, poverty jobs but family wage jobs that build strong, healthy communities.

“Senate Republicans had a chance today to join Democrats and Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate and pass a package to put people to work, but instead they passed the buck.”

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    Keiser, Orwall, Gregerson schedule telephone town hall for March 19

Keiser, Orwall, Gregerson schedule telephone town hall for March 19

March 11th, 2014|

Sen. Karen Keiser and Rep. Tina Orwall and Rep. Mia Gregerson will host a telephone town hall for 33rd Legislative District residents from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 19.

At that time, constituents in the areas of Kent, SeaTac, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Burien and Renton will receive a phone call inviting them to stay on the line to participate in the town hall.

In addition, residents who do not automatically receive a call may dial a toll-free participant number to listen in on the event and ask questions of their elected state officials. That number is (877) 229-8493, ID code 18646#.

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    Legislature passes Keiser legislation to create state Alzheimer’s plan

Legislature passes Keiser legislation to create state Alzheimer’s plan

March 10th, 2014|

Coordinating best practices and services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families is the goal of legislation just approved by the 2014 Legislature.

Under Senate Bill 6124, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, a working group representing all stakeholders in the services and delivery system for Alzheimer’s patients and their families will develop the coordinated state plan. The bill passed both the House and Senate and now needs only to be signed into law by the governor.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death in Washington, and about 150,000 Washingtonians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias,” Keiser said. “This is a public health epidemic not just for individuals and their families but for businesses, health care programs and supports systems in Washington.”

Her legislation directs the state Department of Social and Health Services to convene a group that will focus on the needs of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, services available to meet those needs, and the capacity of the state and providers to meet those needs.

The working group will also explore ways to protect vulnerable adults from predatory guardians who take advantage of the elderly.

“Alzheimer’s and other dementias have become so prevalent that few of us have not been touched by them in some way or another,” Keiser said. “This represents a growing problem for families and businesses and our state, and requires sustained focus and attention.”