There’s just one month left before the 2021 session starts. The legislative session will be conducted mostly virtually with a very limited amount of in-person work happening in Olympia. It may be more difficult to connect with legislators in this virtual context and we know that children and families’ growing needs outstrip state revenue, so it is imperative that we make an impact right from the start!
Many of our top priorities will look familiar – while we achieved success on some of these issues last year, they were vetoed by the Governor due to the impact of the pandemic on the state budget. Others have surfaced as we continue to deal with fallout from the pandemic. The budget situation will be difficult, but we believe we can make a strong case for supporting our agenda:
- Increase funding for Apple Health to support preventive care, child development, and rising social and mental health needs.
- Help families find counselors via Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children & Teens.
- Expand post-partum coverage on Medicaid to one year for new parents.
- Increase vape tax and adopt a flavor ban.
- Support policy changes in Apple Health to address children’s behavioral health needs under age 5.
- Continue telemedicine payment parity and expand to include telephone services; ensure post-pandemic telemedicine is tailored to the specific needs of children.
- Support statewide broadband for equitable telemedicine utilization.
- Support sensible, equitable revenue options.
- Support foundational public health funding.
We need your help in December! Here are 3 ways you can make a meaningful impact for kids:
- Call your legislators! You can find your district and legislator contact information here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/ Legislators are happy to meet by Zoom, and you can get more time with them now than they will be able to spare once the session starts.
- Keep us in the loop. We need to know what you are seeing in your clinic in order to advocate effectively. How many kids did you see today for behavioral health concerns? Are you seeing an increase in teens who are vaping? Have you seen a new mom with a perinatal mood disorder who needs care, but lost her Apple Health insurance 60 days after her child’s birth? If you have patient stories you can share, send them to Jennifer Donahue anytime throughout the year.
- Sign up to testify. Testimony to legislative committees will be virtual this year! Just let us know your general availability and any special interests, and we’ll reach out if there is a bill we need you to testify on. WCAAP staff can help you write your testimony.