NARAL Pro-Choice Washington 2021 Legislative Priorities
Protecting Pregnant Patients Act (SSB 5140)
This bill would ensure that willing healthcare providers can offer life-saving miscarriage care and treatment for ectopic pregnancies, regardless of the policies of the health system they work for. Currently, in Washington, many pregnant patients are not able to access timely treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies due to medically unnecessary restrictions by Washington health systems. These restrictions cause dangerous delays or denials in care and have proven to cause serious harm to patients, at times putting patients in life-threatening situations. These types of discriminatory restrictions disproportionately impact low-income and rural patients.
Keep Our Care Act
The bill requires the Washington Department of Health (DOH) to review and approve all health system consolidations before they occur. The DOH’s review process would ensure such consolidations do not result in reduced affordability or availability of existing services. The bill would also require the DOH to notify the public of the proposed consolidation, hold a public hearing, and oversee a process for public comment. The bill will ensure that future consolidations do not perpetuate discriminatory restrictions to reproductive, gender-affirming, or end-of-life care or exacerbate affordability barriers. It would also ensure that Washington state’s health systems remain robust amid the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Washington has the least equitable tax code in the country where low-income households are taxed at the highest rate. Not only is our upside-down tax code deeply unfair, but it directly impacts our ability to invest in reproductive healthcare and other shared priorities. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington supports closing the tax break on Capital Gains and wasteful tax loopholes to ensure large corporations and the wealthiest Washingtonians pay their fair share. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington also supports a state Recovery Rebate to provide cash directly to Washington families most in need. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating deeply rooted inequities in access to healthcare, housing, and financial resources. We need bold, progressive revenue policies that will make Washington a more equitable place to live for all families.
Immigrant Health Coverage (HB 1191)
This bill would create parity in publicly-funded health coverage programs for all WA residents regardless of immigration status. Specifically, it would create a Medicaid look-alike program for Washingtonians who are currently eligible except for immigration status and create parity in subsidies for qualified health and dental programs for all WA residents. Federal law unjustly excludes many immigrants from receiving affordable health coverage, putting many community members at risk for poor health outcomes. An estimated 46 percent of undocumented Washingtonians are uninsured, compared to seven percent of the overall population.
Insurance Discrimination – Coverage for Gender-Affirming Care (SB 5313)
This bill would prevent insurance carriers from denying coverage for gender-affirming treatment. It would also ensure that if a carrier does not have an adequate network for gender-affirming treatment, it will help identify geographically accessible and timely care at an in-network rate. Access to gender-affirming care is medically necessary and a critical component of reproductive freedom. It is also a racial equity issue. Black, Indigenous, and people of color represent 45% of transgender individuals nationally. Ensuring access to gender-affirming healthcare is a protective factor for violence and discrimination for all gender diverse people, but especially for Black trans women and trans women of color.
Equity in Medical Training (SB 5228 and SB 5229)
SB 5228 would require the schools of medicine at the University of Washington and Washington State University to develop a curriculum on health equity for medical students. This bill would require students to complete a course that includes this curriculum in order to graduate. SB 5229 would require health care professionals to complete health equity continuing education training once every four years. These bills are an important step towards identifying and eliminating structural racism in health care systems and building towards cultural safety for patients and providers.
Extending Postpartum Coverage (SB 5068)
This bill would extend Medicaid coverage from sixty days to twelve months postpartum. Currently, postpartum Medicaid coverage ends sixty days after pregnancy, creating an unsafe gap in care. Gaps in care, particularly during the postpartum period, contribute to pregnancy-related deaths. Maternal mortality data reveal significant racial and ethnic disparities. In Washington, American Indian and Alaska Native women are six to seven times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
Voting Rights Restoration (SB 5086/HB 1078)
This bill would strengthen democracy by automatically restoring the right to vote of Washingtonians who have criminal convictions in their past once they have been released from total confinement. This legislation is critical to ensuring a strong and representative democracy.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington supports policies that prevent the use of force by police officers and increase police accountability to community members. We also support policies that divest from policing and the carceral system and redirect those resources to urgent community needs that disproportionately impact Black communities, including healthcare access. This is critical to the health and safety of Washingtonians, particularly Black and Indigenous communities that have been subject to decades of harm and violence by police, and chronic underinvestment in community needs.