You can hear state Sen. Annette Cleveland’s floor speech today recognizing the 47th anniversary of the passage of the Federal Equal Rights Amendment by the U.S. Senate and the 46th anniversary of its passage by the Washington state Senate by clicking here.
Fifteen bills passed today by the Senate would improve health care coverage, access and affordability for vast numbers of people with a wide variety of needs in communities across Washington state.
“When I talk to people, the number-one concern I hear is whether they will able to access the health care coverage they need at a price they can afford,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), who chairs the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. “The Trump Administration has done everything in its power to undermine the health care coverage advances we’ve made in Washington. These bills are necessary to put people first, ahead of big pharma and other special interests, and address the health care needs our households face first and foremost.”
Two bills directly address the three major Democratic priorities — affordability, access, and extent of coverage — by creating affordable plans for people without health care and by setting the state on a path toward health care for all.
Senate Bill 5526, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), would create affordable insurance plans for those whose employers do not provide health care plans, ensuring that all Washingtonians are covered, through the creation of Cascade Care.
SB 5822, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), would create a work group to identify and recommend how the state can achieve universal health care and what would be the best system for achieving that, such as a single payer system or other solution.
Other bills would address a more diverse range of needs.
SB 5415, sponsored by Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip), would establish an Indian Health Improvement Reinvestment Account to use new state savings from recent federal reimbursement policy changes to fund programs that improve the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington state.
SB 5828, sponsored by Cleveland, would help people stay in their own homes by increasing payment for Medicaid home health services to no less than 100 percent of the Medicare rate, reimbursing costs for social workers and telemedicines under the Medicaid home health benefit, and improving reimbursement methodology.
SB 5846, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, would increase the availability and cultural competency of health professionals, particularly in rural areas.
SB 5184, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), would protect consumers from being signed up for mail-order prescription plans without their knowledge or consent.
SB 5274, sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), would establish a dental care program for Washington residents who are citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau. These exploited populations were provided residency in the United States, but not health care coverage, because their home islands had been used as target practice for nuclear bombs. The state assumed responsibility for providing their health care, and this legislation extends their coverage to include dental care.
SB 5359, sponsored by Cleveland, would address the steeply rising caseload of complaints about residential service providers from people with developmental disabilities by charging a fee to fund the hiring of additional investigators.
SB 5741, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), would ensure fiscal sustainability for the state’s database that provides information on the prices for health care services in specific geographic areas.
“No one should have to go broke trying to keep up with the cost of health care, and no one should have to cut corners on their health in order to pay for food or other basic expenses,” Cleveland said. “These important bills address a wide range of needs and ensure our state will continue to be a leader in the fight for accessible, affordable health care that covers their true needs.”
Other health care bills that passed today include:
SB 5523 would improve the performance of managed care organizations contracted to care for Medicaid clients in Washington state by making portions of their funding contingent upon their performance meeting or exceeding the national average for access to care, preventative care, chronic care management, and medical care utilization.
SB 5054 would expand the behavioral health workforce by creating a reciprocity and probationary program for mental health professionals licensed in another state.
SB 5385 would ensure parity by requiring health plans to pay the same rate for a health care service provided through telemedicine as is paid for an in-person service.
SB 5389 would allow the use of teleconsultants to assist students at risk of substance abuse, violence or suicide.
SB 5483 would improve services for people with disabilities by requiring the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to track and monitor certain client hospitalizations.
SB 5536 would help people with developmental disabilities by directing DSHS to assess whether patients in care facilities are benefiting from active treatment or if they should be moved to an alternative setting that more appropriately meets their needs.
interviews: Sen. Annette Cleveland,
For information: Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569
Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) released this statement today on the status of legislation to maintain immunization requirements that protect the public from outbreaks of contagious diseases:
“Throughout this legislative session, I have been working with Rep. Paul Harris [R-Vancouver] on dual legislation in the Senate and House. From the start, we agreed what’s important is that we address this critical public health need, not which chamber the legislation came from. To that end, our plan now is for the Senate to take the bill passed by the House and work for passage by the Senate.
“The near-elimination of these highly contagious diseases has led many people to underestimate the seriousness of the potential threat to public health. Just because outbreaks are rare does not mean the need for immunizations is any less. Outbreaks are rare expressly because we maintain our immunity through widespread vaccination.
“Because Washington is one of only 17 states that allow broad personal exemptions, we have become vulnerable to outbreaks as evidenced by the ongoing measles exposures in Clark County. It is only this broad personal exemption that is proposed for elimination. The rights of parents continue to be respected by retaining both the medical and religious exemptions, allowing for consultation with a family’s doctor and/or religious beliefs in regard to vaccinating children. Striking this careful balance is imperative.
“It is also imperative, however, that we heed the overwhelming findings in peer-reviewed studies of clinical diseases and the recommendations from experts at the Centers for Disease Control, and protect our communities from outbreaks of easily prevented diseases.
“Just last week, a study of more than 657,000 children born in Denmark concluded there is no link between vaccinations and autism, the most frequently cited fear of parents who oppose vaccinations. What’s more, the study determined that children who are not vaccinated are in fact more likely to develop autism than children who are vaccinated.
“In today’s divisive political environment, many people are ignoring reasoned facts and science in favor of alternative realities that make it difficult to move forward with rational policies. Unfortunately, the most misinformed voices are often the loudest.
“Our state secretary of health has declared the urgent and overriding need for this legislation in no uncertain terms. Earlier this month, the U.S. surgeon general came to Clark County, the site of an outbreak that has reached 71 confirmed exposures at last count, to try to educate the public on the need — and inherent safety — of vaccines and immunizations.
“These are the top medical minds in our state and in our nation. Who can better inform our public health policies than them? If we allow the politicization of issues critical to our public health and safety, rather than listening to the leading experts in medicine, we will be abandoning our duty to protect public health.”
The transportation revenue package passed today by the Senate Transportation Committee includes $450 million toward a new I-5 bridge, Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said today. The package now goes to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration there before it can go to the floor for a full vote of the Senate.
“This is another concrete step toward getting this project moving while we work with Oregon to design a planning process and determine the details of a new bridge,” Cleveland said. “This is only a down payment on what a new bridge will cost, of course, but we anticipate funding from other avenues, including our federal and Oregon state partners once we agree on a mutual vision for the new bridge.”
The funding in the revenue package comes in addition to $17.5 million Gov. Jay Inslee identified in his proposed budget for the 2019-20 biennium, and Cleveland was able to secure in the Senate’s proposed transportation budget. That money would fund a project office to restart the process of designing and building a new bridge, reaffirm Washington’s ongoing commitment to our other partners, and avoid repayment of $140 million in federal funds due this fall if Washington and Oregon fail to restart efforts to build a new I-5 bridge.
In 2013, Washington’s failure to pass legislation approving the two states’ joint Columbia River Crossing project cost the states an additional $850 million in federal transit funds that had been allocated for a new bridge. That money was then re-allocated for transportation projects in other states.
A bipartisan coalition of Southwest Washington state legislators has collaborated in recent years to restart the effort to build a new bridge. That group consists of Cleveland, Sens. Ann Rivers and Lynda Wilson, and Reps. Sharon Wylie, Monica Stonier, Paul Harris and Brandon Vick and was recently joined by Rep. Larry Hoff.
Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee, released this statement following today’s hearing on Senate Bill 5841, her legislation to contain the spread of measles and other threats to public health.
“The measles outbreak in Clark County has spread to 62 confirmed cases and is an alarming reminder of the public health threat posed by once-prolific diseases that have been nearly eradicated by vaccinations.
“The outbreak threatens the health of not only unvaccinated children but those who cannot receive vaccinations, such as newborns, individuals with chronic illnesses, and adults with compromised immune systems.
“Under existing state law, parents may exempt their children from vaccinations on the basis of religion, medical necessity, or personal belief. These exemptions are so broad that they render our state more vulnerable to outbreaks than most other states. SB 5841 retains the exemptions based on religion and medical necessity but eliminates the most problematic exemption: personal belief.
“In the 2017-18 school year, the rate of kindergarten personal belief exemptions was 3.7 percent, compared to only 0.2 percent for religious reasons and 0.8 percent for medical necessity. So, removing the personal belief exemption would reduce the overall percentage of unvaccinated children by more than 75 percent, from 4.7 percent to just 1 percent.
“People throughout our communities feel they should be able to send their kids to school, and go out in public in general, without the risk of being exposed to a serious health threat. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation, and I see it as our responsibility as legislators to ensure that public health is protected.”
Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) issued this statement in response to the I-5 bridge advisory report released today by Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson:
“Secretary Richardson’s comments mark a welcome, cross-state sign of support for the efforts of our bipartisan coalition of Southwest Washington legislators who have worked for several years to revive efforts to build a new I-5 replacement bridge across the Columbia River.
“I commend Secretary Richardson for his efforts to help move this important undertaking forward on behalf of the people of both our states as well as all the individuals and businesses who rely on the I-5 corridor.
“This adds continued momentum to our efforts as we look to future meetings of the Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee that our state created in 2017. Though Washington can determine only the participation of Washington legislators on this committee, and any formal participation by Oregon lawmakers must be determined by the Oregon Legislature, a number of Oregon lawmakers voluntarily attended our first meeting last December. This increases my optimism that Oregon will take legislative action this session to formalize their participation and we will be able to collaborate together.
“Everyone knows we need a new I-5 bridge. Secretary Richardson’s clear, forward-looking support from across the border today will help transform that need into continued action.”
Secretary Richardson’s full comments on the report can be seen in this news release.
Washington state residents would be better protected from the spread of diseases and deadly bacteria under legislation being drafted by Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), the chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.
SB 5841 would eliminate one of the three currently allowed exemptions from the common vaccinations that immunize children from polio, measles, chicken pox, pneumococcal disease and other illnesses. While retaining religious and medical exemptions, the bill would remove the exemption that is used most often and is least substantiated: personal belief or philosophy.
“Vaccinations have proven critical in protecting children and the overall community from deadly diseases that were once very prevalent,” said Cleveland, who works in health care apart from her role as an elected official. “When people exempt their children from vaccinations, it can pose a risk to public health.”
In Clark County alone, a recent outbreak of measles has moved Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency as exposures were tracked to multiple Vancouver locations as well as locations in Oregon and in the Seattle area.
“Vaccinations protect not just the children who receive them but others throughout the community,” Cleveland said. “First and foremost, widespread vaccinations make it difficult for a disease to gain a foothold in a community. Second, reducing the potential exposure helps protect those who are unable to receive vaccinations, such as newborns or individuals with chronic illnesses.”
Cleveland further noted that a disease like measles can cause hearing loss, pneumonia, encephalitis and death, and can increase the potential for pregnant women to give birth prematurely or to a baby with low birth weight.
“Thanks to the widespread use of vaccinations, we were able to declare the measles virus eliminated in the U.S. in 2000,” she said. “But now we’re seeing a return of this contagious disease, and statistics indicate 90 percent of those with measles either were not vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown. That suggests the outbreaks are coming from the unvaccinated, meaning we need to take the necessary steps to protect against a resurgence of measles in the general population.
“The eradication of serious diseases that caused immense suffering in past generations was miraculous and saved untold lives. We must not risk our future by forgetting the past.”
In this podcast with Everblue State, Sen. Annette Cleveland lays out Democrats’ plans for health care legislation.
Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee, issued this statement on a proposal announced today to provide a public option for health insurance in Washington state:
“I applaud this plan and look forward to shepherding it through the Senate and working toward its passage by the full Legislature.
“Health care is the number one concern in households across our country, and for good reason. At a time when the White House and Senate continue to work to roll back Americans’ health care coverage, it’s more important than ever that we act at the state level to ensure access to affordable, comprehensive coverage for Washingtonians.
“I have said for some time that it is critical that the state offer a health insurance plan for individuals through our state health benefit exchange. A public option can lower premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs for households that do not have health plans through employers, and ensure that all Washingtonians in the individual market have access to an affordable healthcare plan, even if private insurers raise rates or leave the market.
“This policy will give Washingtonians more options from which to choose. It will increase competition among plan providers, leading to lower costs for consumers. It will also standardize the cost sharing and range of benefits offered in the both public and private plans available through the exchange, making it easier for consumers to find a plan that meets their needs.”
Senator Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) announced today that the first meeting of the Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee, is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs in Portland. The meeting signals a new level of collaboration between the two states in the effort to build a new I-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River.
“I thank my friends in Oregon for their cooperation and support and look forward to working together for the mutual good of our region,” said Cleveland, whose legislation in 2017 established the committee. “A replacement I-5 Bridge is critical for the region for current and future generations.”
Cleveland said the progress is the result of several years of collaboration by seven Southwest Washington legislators to demonstrate a consensus that would earn the trust of their Oregon counterparts. Those lawmakers are Cleveland, Sens. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Lynda Wilson (R- Vancouver) and Reps. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver), Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) and Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver).
“We all agree on the overdue need for a new bridge and a process that maintains the public’s trust and support,” she said. “I’m not going to suggest this undertaking will be simple or easy, but we are determined to find a path that leads us to a solution in order to build the much-needed replacement bridge.”
In addition to creating a Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee, lawmakers in Washington passed legislation that directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to inventory data from prior bridge proposals to expedite the planning process. Other proposed legislation by Cleveland would simplify and accelerate the administration of a new I-5 bridge plan once it has been agreed upon.
Washington lawmakers on the joint committee are Cleveland, Rivers, Wilson, Wylie and Vick plus Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) and Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama).
Oregon lawmakers who have agreed to attend Tuesday’s meeting as guests are Sens. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) and Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), along with Reps. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro). The Washington Legislature’s authority to appoint members to the committee is limited to Washington state legislators. Moving forward, any defined role on, or commitment to, the committee by Oregon lawmakers must be determined by the Oregon State Legislature.
“A new bridge would spur economic growth throughout the surrounding communities while also improving safety, reliability and better protecting motorists in the event of an earthquake, Cleveland said. “The current spans of the bridge, built in 1917 and 1958 respectively, have served us well, but the time for replacement in order to better serve our needs as a thriving region is now.”