FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ryan MacDonald, Pro-Choice Washington, Comms. Director, email@example.com, (206) 624-1990
Mack Smith, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Communications Manager, (503) 953-3785
LaVendrick Smith, ACLU-WA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Olympia – Today, SB 5241, also known as the Keep Our Care Act, was brought to the Senate Floor for a vote, led by Senator Emily Randall (26th LD). It passed the Senate with a vote of 28-21. The bill now heads to the House.
The Keep Our Care Act (KOCA) will ensure that consolidations of health care systems, such as hospitals or clinics, would improve rather than harm access to affordable, quality health care. After being introduced in 2021, the Keep Our Care Act has made progress every year since, but has never received a floor vote.
Washington state saw a 23% increase in out-of-state abortion patients in 2023, according to the Department of Health. This bill will protect abortion services for many of those patients who travel here to receive care.
After decades of rampant, unchecked consolidations, 50% of hospital beds in Washington state are controlled by health care systems that have policies to deny patients reproductive, gender-affirming, and end-of-life care. Local clinics across the state are being gobbled up by corporate consolidations.
Senator Emily Randall, the bill’s prime sponsor, stressed the importance of having a law like KOCA in Washington state.
“Living in Kitsap, I’ve seen firsthand how hospital consolidations can impact all of us. Not just those seeking health care, but providers and staff, first responders – our community’s trust.
“The Keep Our Care Act is a commitment to prioritize the healthcare needs of real people over corporate interests. This bill ensures that we’ll maintain vital services in our communities – including reproductive, end-of-life, and gender-affirming care,” said Sen. Randall.
Thanks to advocacy efforts by Pro-Choice Washington, ACLU-WA, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, the Washington State Labor Council, Cedar River Clinics, Legal Voice, Gender Justice League, Washington CAN, and others, KOCA is one step closer to passing the senate.
Sami Alloy, Interim Executive Director of Pro-Choice Washington, released the following statement:
“A right without access isn’t a right. Pro-Choice Washington activists have been working hard to pass the Keep Our Care Act to ensure accessible, affordable healthcare for all Washingtonians, and those seeking reproductive health care in our state. because it is an essential tool to protect reproductive freedom in Washington. Our communities have shown up through rallies, contacting their legislators, and sharing their stories.
“Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, patients from around the nation rely on states like Washington to provide life-saving abortion and gender-affirming care services. It is even more essential that we protect these services from disappearing in our state due to unchecked health system consolidations. The Keep Our Care Act will do just that.”
Courtney Normand, Washington State Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, released the following statement:
“All people deserve access to reproductive health care and gender affirming care – no matter which provider they turn to in our state. It’s time to move this legislation forward, and ensure that Washingtonians from every corner of our state have equitable access to health care. We’re looking forward to this legislation finally becoming law.”
Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League, released the following statement:
“As consolidations have progressed, LGBTQI+ equity, diversity, and inclusion work has greatly slowed, and many trainings that are attended by staff include colleagues in other states who are vocally opposed to gender-affirming care, which has subjected Washington LGBTQ+ staff to harassment, ignorant statements, and hostility by their out of state peers.
“Especially as trans people face attacks and pressure across the country, Washington Democrats must stand together on our shared values of equality in healthcare for all, non-discriminatory healthcare, and science-backed decision making in medicine.
“All of these issues would be addressed by the Keep Our Care Act.”
Sybil Hyppolite, Washington State Labor Council Government Affairs Director, released the following statement:
“The Keep Our Care Act is important because health care workers need access to quality jobs and our communities need access to quality care. Unchecked health care consolidation is a direct threat to working people”
Leah Rutman, Health Policy Program Director at the ACLU of Washington, released the following statement:
“For too long, people throughout our state have had access to critical care services diminished as large health entities have placed profits over the interests and needs of patients. The Keep Our Care Act is important to ensure we safeguard community access to quality affordable care, and we’re excited today’s vote brings us one step closer to that reality.”
Jessica Hauffe, Interim Government Affairs Director for WSNA, released the following statement:
“The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) was very pleased to see the Keep Our Care Act (KOCA) SB 5241 pass the Senate floor last night. Healthcare consolidation without adequate oversight puts health care workers, patients, and our communities at risk. We need oversight to ensure patient’s access to quality care and to ensure fair wages and working conditions. As research tells us, unchecked consolidation leads to increased costs, reduced access to care and impacts quality of care.”
Since becoming an independent organization in October 2021, Pro-Choice Washington has been at the forefront of the reproductive freedom landscape. It has helped to expand and protect abortion access across Washington state. Pro-Choice Washington is the only advocacy organization dedicated solely to reproductive freedom in Washington.
Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, Serving AK, HI, ID, IN, KY, WA (PPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating residents and policymakers about reproductive health issues in Alaska, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington. PPAA lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission, and engages in limited electoral activities.