5 Things Washington: Fair Share Health Care, Medicaid Eligibility, Keith Monosky
We have a host of topics drawn from the legislative session teed up for you in this edition of 5 Things. Sara Gentzler on our team is based full time in Olympia, while Emily Boerger, Marjie High and myself are in Seattle. So, this newsletter has become very much a team effort in recent months, with each of the four of us making contributions in each edition.
So, thanks for reading our stuff as we begin our ninth year of bringing you this newsletter on Washington State health care and health policy.
With help from Emily Boerger,
Sara Gentzler, and Marjie High
1. Podcast: Republican Leadership
Senator Randi Becker is the Senate Republican Caucus Chair and is a member of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Representative Paul Harris is the House Minority Caucus Chair and a member of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. They joined us for this podcast, recorded during the 2019 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference, where the two leaders look ahead to the 2019 legislative session.
During the conversation, Sen. Becker discusses several priority tele-medicine bills, along with other key issues like improving the state’s mental health system. Rep. Harris discusses priorities related to opioids, raising the age for buying tobacco products, and the public option bill. And, there’s some talk about differences of opinion on vaccinations, a topic that is now, just a few weeks later, much more timely given the measles outbreak.
2. Health care-related bills passed out of committee
The cut-off for Washington’s Legislature to pass bills out of committee and read them into the record on the floor in the house of origin is just nine days away. As of yesterday, Washington’s House and Senate had passed 45 bills and one joint memorial out of the two health-care related committees. We highlight a handful of those bills here.
The on-the-move bills range widely, covering issues like balance billing, behavioral health, and drug-pricing transparency. For a couple of the bills we’ve mentioned in our coverage before, Tobacco 21 and the Long Term Care Trust Act, companion bills have moved out of committee in both chambers.
3. Reeves’ Fair Share Health Care facing deadline
Rep. Kristine Reeves’ “Fair Share Health Care” plan is running up against the Legislature’s February 22 cut-off date to pass out of committee. The bill aims to ensure that profitable, large employers pay their share of their employees’ health care costs.
The bill would require employers with 1,000 or more employees to submit a quarterly report to the Health Care Authority (HCA) detailing the number of their employees that are under the age of 65 and enrolled in Medicaid. These employers would then need to pay an assessment for each of those employees — up to 100 percent of the cost of the HCA’s input to the employees’ health care coverage. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness, but has yet to receive a public hearing date.
4. Video: Keith Monosky, PNWU
Keith Monosky is the Executive Director of the Interprofessional Practice and Education Collaborative at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss educating the health care workforce.
“I think one of the concerns that I have is that [students] lack the depth of the issues that sometimes exist within their disciplines or within education in general. A lot of their concerns or thought processes tend to be a little too superficial and they want immediate results; and sometimes things take contemplation, they take a great deal of focus and protracted effort before they come to resolution.”
5. Bill would extend Medicaid to immigrant youth
To further impact the state’s uninsured rate and overall health outcomes, Rep. Nicole Macri introduced HB 1697 to extend Medicaid Apple Health to income-eligible undocumented youth ages 19 to 26. Currently slated for the House Health and Wellness committee, it would be one of the first such expansions in the country.
While federal Medicaid funds are usually limited to qualified immigrants, some key vulnerable populations can access care through a mix of federal and state expansions. Washington has already chosen to cover children 0 through 18 and pregnant women regardless of status, and federal exceptions cover refugees, asylees, emergency care, and those with serious illnesses like cancer, kidney disease, and transplant recipients.