Advocacy Preview: 2019 Legislative Session

Amber Ulvenes
WCAAP Legislative Liaison

It’s January once again, so that means it is time to launch into a new legislative session, and a new opportunity to advocate for kids in Washington state! Our priorities will be familiar to many, as they build on our work in 2018. First, we are working to bring pediatric Medicaid reimbursement to parity with Medicare, as they were briefly after the Affordable Care Act passed, to improve access to care for Washington children. In the 2018 legislative session, we did achieve a small increase in these rates (hooray!) but our legislative champions understand why we need to keep moving forward to full parity for better disease prevention, earlier diagnosis and treatment, and fewer emergency room visits. The Governor did include funding in his 2019-2021 budget proposal to further enhance pediatric Medicaid rates, which is great news, but it is still not enough to improve access to primary care where it is needed most.

We are also seeking Medicaid to Medicare rate parity for behavioral health codes that are most often utilized by pediatric care providers. While helpful in all settings, this level could mean that a pediatric practice could integrate behavioral health care into their everyday work by adding a therapist to the team. Children are then supported where and when they are identified in need. The current model causes breakdown in care because too many families fail to get connected to a behavioral health provider when they are referred out.

Third, we will be actively working in coalition with partner organizations to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products to 21. Increasing the age for legal sale of tobacco and nicotine will help keep these products out of the hands of teens and prevent life-long nicotine addiction for our youth.

To learn more about WCAAP legislative priorities, visit To register for Advocacy Day, visit