As the 2017 legislative session finally draws to a close, we wanted to pause to reflect and celebrate all of our accomplishments this year. We had an ambitious legislative agenda with priorities that included increasing access to care by raising the Medicaid rate; improving children’s mental health; investing early childhood programs like home visiting, paid family leave, and Reach Out and Read; and keeping kids safe by preventing access to firearms, updating distracted driving laws, and raising the age to purchase tobacco.
With such a broad agenda we needed input and action from you, our members across the state, more than ever. And you answered the call in heroic fashion! WCAAP members spoke up and showed up:
- 18 WCAAP members testified at 28 different hearings in the House and Senate.
- WCAAP members wrote nearly 1300 messages to legislators about issues that affect child health.
- 63 WCAAP members from around the state traveled to Olympia for Advocacy Day.
- WCAAP members helped raise awareness about child health by contributing to TV segments, newspaper columns, letters to editors and opinion pieces from Spokane to Seattle and Tri-Cities to Tacoma.
As a result, we’re chalking up important wins! Significant steps were taken toward improving children’s mental health with the passage of bills to implement key recommendations of the Children’s Mental Health Work Group. The work group continues to meet and we will continue to participate in advancing additional recommendations in 2018. The final budget which was signed just last Friday includes funding for the mental health bills we supported this session.
Our state’s distracted driving law was updated and takes effect July 23. (Click here for specifics on the new law). This update is the result of several years of commitment by advocates like Dr. Beth Ebel, who testified in Olympia numerous times and provided critical expertise to advance child safety. Everyone will be safer on Washington roads thanks to this legislation.
The legislature also passed paid family and medical leave and included maintenance levels of funding for Reach Out and Read and Home Visiting.
In addition, WCAAP members have been tireless advocates on the federal front. While the status of the federal government’s efforts at health reform is still unclear, you can rest assured that the WCAAP is partnering with the national American Academy of Pediatrics and our sister chapters nationwide to protect Medicaid for children.
Our strength as a chapter is our members. You’re focused daily on ensuring that care for your patients is as effective as it can be and that Washington’s kids are as healthy as possible. WCAAP amplifies that focus and unites our members’ voices statewide on behalf of Washington’s kids. Together, we make things happen.