What’s Happening in the Washington Legislature?

NoHLA’s Third Legislative Update

In Olympia, legislators are considering many bills related to health care access. See NoHLA’s Legislative Update #3– a chart of these bills and their statuses (as of 3/29/2017) with links to detailed information.

Comparing the House and Senate Budgets

The Senate and House have passed their budgets and must now reach agreement. For an analysis of the major differences between the budgets, see this summary from the Washington Budget & Policy Center. Here are a few selected highlights from the perspective of low-income health care consumers:

  • The House budget would allow the Health Care Authority to proceed with the Medicaid Transformation waiver project, using $1.5 billion in federal funding to improve health care delivery systems and lower costs for Medicaid. It would also offer cost-effective support for family caregivers and help individuals find housing and employment. The Senate budget would not allow this project to proceed, other than a part of the family caregiver support funding, preventing these funds from coming to Washington.
  • The Senate budget would cut safety net programs for low-income families (TANF) and people with disabilities (ABD & HEN) who would not otherwise qualify for medical coverage.
  • The Senate budget would restore hearing aid coverage under Medicaid; the House budget would include chiropractic; both would fund (1) an oral health pilot for pregnant women and individuals with diabetes (more in Senate for a statewide program), and (2) health home care coordination for dual eligible Medicaid/Medicare beneficiaries (more in Senate).
  • The Senate budget would require the Health Care Authority to procure dental coverage for Medicaid as a managed care program. Both budgets would require purchasing of prescriptions through a single standard preferred drug list managed by HCA.
  • The House would make significant improvements to Public Health funding; the Senate does not include additional funds.

Take Action!

The House budget closes loopholes on capital gains, business and occupation taxes, and a number of outdated exemptions that no longer meet their original purpose. It provides for greater revenue than the Senate budget, which is needed to fund essential services. Now we need to let our legislators hear that we like it.

Call the Legislative Hotline at: (844) 489-4843

  • Open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (translators are available).
  • Leave your name and address (they will tell you who your legislators are).
  • Tell them you want to send a message to all 3 of your legislators.

Sample Message (focused on health care)

I want to see our state lead the nation in affordable, quality health care.

It’s time to clean up the tax code to make sure we build a strong foundation for Washington – and the House Democratic budget is a good step in the right direction. Please support closing the tax break on capital gains and other wasteful tax breaks to pay for a great future for all Washingtonians, rather than funding education at the expense of thriving communities.

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