Advocacy Update: Stand Up for WA Kids!

Sarah Rafton, MSW – WCAAP Executive Director
Jennifer Donahue – WCAAP Communications Manager

Just 2 days left for policy bills & 1 week to go in the 2020 session 

It has been an intense and productive session for WCAAP so far! We just have until this Friday to pass policy bills and the session concludes next Thursday, March 12. Both the Senate and House budgets increase Medicaid rates for pediatric care significantly. We anticipate the final budget will make a meaningful difference to clinics’ ability to provide and sustain high quality care and timely access for children on Apple Health. This is the closest we’ve been to reaching parity with Medicare for primary care and all signs point to a positive outcome. This progress would not have been possible without WCAAP members speaking up at every opportunity and refusing to give up over the past 5 years! Thank you for your dedication – every time you contact your legislators, we take a step closer to our goals for kids.

Other key investments for kids in the budget to date:

  • Behavioral health Medicaid rates – 25% increase in Medicaid counseling codes in the House budget
  • Maintenance of the Partnership Access Line for families through June 2021 – funding in both House and Senate budgets
  • Partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient services – funding in Senate budget
  • Expansion of Access to Baby & Child Dentistry (ABCD) – funding in House budget
  • Reach Out & Read – funding in House budget
  • SNAP fresh produce incentives – funding in Senate budget
  • TANF improvements – funding in House budget
  • Title X Reproductive Health – funding in both budgets

House and Senate budget leaders have begun the process of reconciling the two budgets and drafting a final budget.

A WCAAP priority, SB 6254, to restrict vape flavors, has passed Ways & Means in the Senate. The bill is significantly modified and we think it has both great strengths and serious weaknesses. We sent you an action alert about this bill TODAY, 3/4/20; please contact your legislators to increase regulations on vape products.

Another top priority for us, extending Medicaid post-partum coverage to one year, has passed the both the House and Senate!  The House version would require a federal waiver be granted before the coverage extends to one year, delaying implementation of this critical care for new parents. We hope this provision is removed in the reconciliation process.

Thanks to our incredible members and staff we have also made progress on several other policy bills this session to improve kids’ health. The following bills are still “alive,” but time is short as these bills must pass the floor of both houses by Friday March 6 to prevail. Should any one of these topics below be a passion area for you – please send your legislators a second message, in addition to vaping regulations, to support child well-being.

The following bills have passed the House but not yet the Senate:

  • Sustainable funding for PAL HB2728
  • Increasing access to ABCD (dental program) HB2905
  • Improving lead standards HB1860
  • Requiring Personal Flotation Devices on small vessels HB2443
  • Increasing access to free meals in schools HB2660

The following bills have passed the Senate but not yet the House:

  • Healthy Drinks in Kids’ Meals SB6455
  • Fruits & Vegetables on SNAP SB6309

Slightly different bills removing restrictions to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) have passed each house, HB2441 and SB6478, putting this policy in a strong position whereby the houses could use either bill as the vehicle to ultimately pass this legislation.

We recognize COVID-19 has made times even busier for clinicians and are grateful for those of you who are able to take action for kids!