Senate passes Randall bill to eliminate barriers to reproductive health care

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted 28-17 today to pass the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA).

Senate Bill 5602, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), prohibits health care discrimination on the basis of immigration status or gender identity. 

“Our state has a proud history of protecting and expanding reproductive freedom,” said Randall. “But our transgender and undocumented neighbors have faced continued discrimination and barriers to care. This bill protects the most vulnerable communities and provides access to the essential health care they need and deserve.”

The RHAA creates a state-funded program to cover family planning services for undocumented Washingtonians who would be eligible for the federal Take Charge program if not for their immigration status. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in all reproductive health services covered by Medicaid and private insurance plans. In addition, it extends reproductive health care access requirements to student health plans.

Last year, the Senate passed Sen. Steve Hobbs’s Reproductive Parity Act (SB 6219), which required all insurance plans in Washington state that cover maternity care to also cover the full range of reproductive health services.

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

Senate passes legislation to create LGBTQ Commission

OLYMPIA — Legislation to create a state commission to work with state agencies to develop and implement policies to address the unique needs of the LGBTQ community passed off the Senate floor today on a 34-14 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson, Senate Bill 5356 would direct the governor to appoint commissioners who present a balanced and diverse representation of race and ethnicity, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and occupation.

“This will help members of our community whose identify puts them at extreme and disproportionate risk of violence, discrimination and other challenges,” Wilson said. “This commission can address the unique obstacles LGBTQ people encounter in everything from public school settings, to employment, to everyday interactions in our communities.”

Among other things, the commission would be directed to identify concerns specific to LGBTQ sub groups, such as LGBTQ people of color, individuals in the DD community, veterans, seniors, and many others.

You can hear Wilson’s thoughts on the need for this legislation by clicking on this short video.