OLYMPIA – Seeking to promote healthy children and healthy families, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, sponsored a series of bills designed to improve health care services. Those bills range from enabling health care students to provide minor medical assistance at community events like Spokane’s Hoopfest to requiring Critical Congenital Heart Disease screenings for newborns. They all passed the state House of Representatives this week unanimously.
“Too often we fail to identify serious medical issues, which can result in disaster,” said Riccelli, a father of two small children. “We can do better, and we must. By passing these practical reforms, we can head off problems before they cause our children unnecessary harm. Making sure our families have the access to care they need is a top priority.”
Each bill targets a specific area supporting the overall health of our community.
HB 1285 – Requires all newborns in Washington to be screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. CCHD affects nearly 1 in 100 infants. Early detection and intervention is critical for a good health outcome for these infants.
“Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of death for children with a birth defect,” said Lindsay Hovind of the American Heart Association. “Pulse oximetry screening is a painless, inexpensive, and effective way to save lives.”
HB 1369 – Expands opportunities for students of nursing, pharmacy, and medicine to volunteer in schools and at community events like Hoopfest and Bloomsday by simplifying supervision requirements. Under this bill, a student in any of the above fields could offer basic services like cholesterol screenings, patient education, immunizations, and taking vital signs under the supervision of a professional in any of those fields trained in that service area. This will lessen the often prohibitive challenge of finding the supervisory staff needed to make voluntary clinics possible.
HB 2021 – Helps uninsured and underinsured patients access low-cost prescription medications. The Prescription Drug Assistance Program has been helping uninsured people access low-cost drugs for the past decade. The passage of the Affordable Care Act has cut down the ranks of the uninsured, but many people still cannot afford the high cost of prescription drugs. This bill will expand eligibility for prescription drug assistance so that more people can access the life-saving medicine they need.
The bills will be sent to the senate for its consideration.