Monthly Archives: December 2014

Frockt voted Senate Democratic health care lead

December 19th, 2014|

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, was elected by his caucus today to serve as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health Care Committee. Senator Frockt served on the Health Committee during his first two years in the State Senate in 2012-13.

“I’ve fought for affordable, high-quality health care for Washingtonians my entire career, and I look forward to continuing this work,” said Frockt. “Washington has been a national leader in health care reform, but we need to make sure that people are able to access the health care they need, and that the Washington model bends the cost curve on care delivery, premiums and deductibles.”

Frockt highlighted several issues as key legislative priorities in the health care field, including expanding the supply of medical professionals in underserved areas, improving access to dental care, and making sure that the Health Benefit Exchange operates effectively.

“The Affordable Care Act was a step forward to provide health coverage and economic security from bankruptcy for hundreds of thousands of people,” said Frockt. “Now we need to focus on health care delivery. Do we have the medical professionals we need? Are they in-network for people’s insurance plans? Are we delivering the most effective care and procedures possible? These are the challenges we need to solve next.”

Frockt has already introduced legislation for the upcoming session to increase funding for the Health Professional Loan Repayment program, which helps medical professionals repay their student loans if they commit to working in rural and underserved areas currently facing a critical shortage of doctors, nurses and dentists.

Frockt was also elected to serve on the Higher Education and Trade and Economic Development committees, both issues important to the communities in the 46th district.

“Keeping higher education accessible and affordable is a top priority for families and students in our community,” said Frockt. “I’ll fight to hold the line on tuition at our colleges, expand financial aid and for opportunities for students to study the science, technology and engineering programs that prepare students for the good jobs of the future.”

Frockt will also be continuing his work to fully fund our K-12 education system to meet our McCleary obligation and to pass a balanced transportation investment package.

Frockt bill would expand loan repayment program

December 12th, 2014|

Sen. David Frockt today introduced a bill to reduce the state’s primary care shortage and encourage health professionals to practice in underserved areas.
A group of Washington’s leading provider organizations representing dentists, physicians, nurses, community health centers and hospitals applauded his leadership and lent their support to the bill.
Senate Bill 5010 would allocate $8 million in the 2015-2017 biennium for Washington’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Fund, which encourages healthcare students and qualified healthcare professionals to practice in underserved areas by helping pay down the tremendous cost of student loans.
“Medicaid expansion and Qualified Health Plans through the Health Benefit Exchange extended health insurance to more than 600,000 individuals in Washington who did not previously have coverage, which is significant,” Frockt said. “But we must have an adequate workforce to meet this increased demand. Providing underserved communities additional resources to recruit qualified health professionals reinforces the state’s commitment to improve access to comprehensive healthcare for all persons in Washington.”
A recent study by the Robert Graham Center projects that maintaining Washington’s current primary care utilization rates state will require 1,695 additional primary care physicians by 2030, a 32 percent increase from the state’s current 5,141 primary care physician workforce. In addition, the state’s physician workforce is aging, with two-thirds of physicians in rural counties age 55 or older , and about one in five primary care physicians planning to retire in the next few years , according to reports by the WWAMI Center for Health Workforce Studies.
“Having access to insurance coverage does not guarantee access to care,” said Brian Seppi, MD, president of the Washington State Medical Association. “There must be healthcare professionals available to treat these patients, particularly in underserved areas. Student loan repayment is a proven way to encourage primary care providers starting out their careers to settle in these underserved areas.”
Teresita Batayola, president of the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, called the loan repayment program “an essential recruitment and retention tool for key safety net providers, such as community health centers, to secure a reliable workforce for underserved populations and in urban and rural areas across the state.”
Elizabeth Jensen, a pharmacist at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Toppenish, said the program “draws many new clinicians to our practice. Though I really enjoy my work setting and my clientele, I can admit that the repayment program opened my eyes to this site. I think that once you can draw clinicians to the sites, it allows them to see the need and the rewarding nature of the work, and makes them want to stay.”

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    Frockt, Kohl-Welles call for full funding for higher education

Frockt, Kohl-Welles call for full funding for higher education

December 11th, 2014|

The Legislature should make every effort to fully fund the $198 million sought by Washington’s universities in order to hold tuition steady for the next two years and to maintain institutional quality, Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said today.
“Higher education is a public good that we must support as a community,” said Frockt, a member of the Higher Education and Ways and Means committees. “Low- and middle- income students continue to struggle to finance their education and yet we know that the lifetime earnings for those with a college degree will far outpace those without. College access is also the key to breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty. So this is the right public investment if we want to keep the gateway to the middle class open.”
“Since 1991, cuts in state spending have raised the students’ share of tuition costs by 356 percent,” said Kohl-Welles, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Higher Education Committee, Ways and Means Committee member, and vice-chair of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. “That’s a deal breaker for many middle-class families and students who face a choice between passing up on college or taking on crushing debt. This is not the recipe for a healthy middle class.”
The radical increase in tuition is the result of a dramatic flip in who pays the lion’s share of the cost of a college education at state institutions. In 1991, the state funded 82 percent of the cost and students paid 18 percent; by 2013, the state’s commitment had fallen to 34 percent and students’ had risen to 66 percent. The senators believe that the state policy should be to move back toward a 50/50 split over time.
“It’s easy to say we support education, but the true measure of our commitment will lie in what this Legislature does to balance the debilitating cuts that were made during the Great Recession,” Kohl-Welles said. “We made some hard choices to balance the budget during hard times, and now it’s time to move the pendulum back on the side of the households across this state whose success hinges on access to an affordable college education.”
“In addition, we must move aggressively to fully fund the State Need Grant program,” Frockt said, “Right now, we are only meeting the needs of 70 percent of those who are eligible for the SNG, leaving 30,000 eligible but unserved – with no option other than to tack on more student loan debt as they seek a degree or more workforce skills. This lack of full funding also drives up costs in our College Bound Scholarship program since the two programs are linked. Full funding will also free up institutional aid for middle-income students just above the SNG cutoff line as a recent UW student report demonstrated. State policy should be to expand educational opportunity at every juncture, not curtail it.”