Q&A: Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber discusses health policy priorities for 2022

Representative Jacquelin Maycumber has served Washington’s 7th Legislative District —  which includes Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties, and parts of Okanogan and Spokane Counties — since 2017. Maycumber serves on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

In this Q&A, Maycumber discusses health care initiatives she looks forward to implementing and advocating for, as well as her health policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

 

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Soraya Marashi: What are your health care related priorities for the upcoming legislative session?

Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber: “My insulin bill that passed a couple years ago had a prescription drug task force … to really review some of those life saving medications, [which]costs have increased around 500 to 800% in the last few years … That task force will be implemented this year, so I really look forward to that … 

Also really looking at continuity of care has been a priority of mine — making sure people continue to get the preventative health care that they need. But also having access to primary care has really been a huge deal in my district and throughout the state.”

SM: What health care related issues have you been working on in the interim?

Rep. Maycumber: “Mostly continuity of care. With the governor’s shutdown, we saw a lot of people really put their health care on the back burner, or [they] were not able to continue the health care needs that they had [prior to the pandemic] – not just preventative care, but [an] ongoing process. So, making sure people had access, that they continued with their care, and that they were able to start back up … Physicians and a lot of providers had a difficult time with that bottleneck … so making sure people were able to get in and get a lot of their care needs taken care of. And then, as we move forward, we really need to see that we start working on those checkups that really stopped those major [health] issues early, that people are able to get back into that cycle of seeing their primary care providers.”

SM: The deadline for Inslee’s vaccine mandate is rapidly approaching – do you feel that this is important to public health and safety in our state, and what has been the consensus from the workers in your constituency?

Rep. Maycumber: “I have concerns on who was making the mandate to begin with. I really think that maybe one public official should not be making this decision. I really think it should be at the hands of the physicians. I’ve heard from constituents who are currently in active chemotherapy and radiation for cancer care, who did not receive medical exemptions, and so will be losing their insurance because they’ll  be losing their jobs. So I really think that this should have been put in the hands of the providers, not the bureaucracy of the state … 

And I have a big concern — and I think a lot of people are feeling this and seeing this — with what happens to our workforce. What happens to our health care workforce when we talk about emergency care and hospitals, and what we deem as our frontline workers, our emergency responders? And those are workforces that we have to have in place. Those aren’t something that we can do without. We have to have our nursing and our health care staff, and our emergency staff. So I do have grave concerns about what’s going to occur in the next month, and how our health care participates in those decisions. And I really think I would like to see more physicians making those decisions — not the state of Washington — for each individual.”

SM: You introduced House Bill 1000 in the previous legislative session, which deals with expanding mental health services for law enforcement. Why do you feel that this is an important issue?

Rep. Maycumber: “I think this is important for everyone, not just law enforcement. I mean, you really see the toll that mental health takes on law enforcement officers … [mentally] healthy, happy law enforcement officers respond better at home and at work, and so making sure that we support them and their mental health is so important. That policy was 100% funded in the budget … so I’m very happy about that. 

There’s another bill that I worked very hard on with the mental health community and law enforcement, and it is broadly bipartisan. I’m very proud of [House Bill 1392]. It has not passed or been fully funded, but it’s a mental health pilot project. So, we fully funded supporting law enforcement mental health, but now looking at the general populace, how do we respond to mental health crises? And it’s really important that we do respond with not just law enforcement, if there’s an emergency situation, but also mental health providers. 

Sometimes it’s hard to get help, but having a mental health provider respond at the time with a 911 call is really good because you’re actually communicating in that crisis moment. And you can see the needs that they have — whether that is housing, or medical, or just a support system, you can really see those social services that are necessary at the time. So my bill, 1392, is a mobile crisis unit, just like they have in other states, that will respond with law enforcement. Some areas have that right now and are very successful in Washington state, but we don’t have it as a broad range response, and I think that’s really where we need to have that conversation. As a former law enforcement officer, I support that. You should have experts in mental health that should be responding in these crisis moments … for our communities as a whole, we see it as one of the biggest issues when you’re around your community, is making sure those people have the support they need.”

SM: You were a sponsor of the House and Senate Republicans’ “Open Safe, Open Now” plan – what are your public safety/health priorities as the state continues to battle the spread of COVID-19 and continues the return to “normal”? 

Rep. Maycumber: “Right now, you’ll see that one of my biggest concerns was, like I said for continuity of health care, making sure people are able to access preventative health care, but also emergency health care. So as we start to open … I really think that you can see that it’s a false presumption that health care workers cannot be delivered safely … I really think health care can be delivered safely in this environment … This is a health care emergency, so making sure our health care providers have the PPE they need, have the access they need, but also the continuing care that they need … I do [want to make sure] that we continue the access to our providers, and not close down again.

When we shut down Washington, at that time, we shut down all health care. And I really think a lot of physicians felt that they could continue working [during the shutdown], they could continue hopefully working with proper PPE, and continue to provide the health care that’s a necessity at that time, and so I want to make sure that we continue that access … that was my greatest concern … that we continue the process to get the providers everything they need to continue to provide medical care during the state of emergency.”

SM: How do you see the future of health care in WA now that we have experienced a pandemic like this? What permanent changes do you hope to see? 

Rep. Maycumber: “I hope our frontline workers [and] our workforce have the support they need, both financially and physically … I was concerned very early about PPE for my frontline workers when they noticed they weren’t getting their scheduled PPE orders early … And so making sure that we prepare for future pandemics … but also making sure that politics is removed out of health care emergencies, that we have our health care workers helping make those decisions that are most important for the individual.

I think we all know someone who was affected by stopping their medical care, and then we see the importance of the health care and preventative care that our providers make every day.” 

This interview was edited for clarity and length.