Washington State House Democrats


House approves $100 million worth of budget-related bills

A number of bills aimed at trimming nearly $100 million in the upcoming budget were passed this week in the state House of Representatives.

These bills, known as “NTIB” or necessary to implement the budget, also authorize savings for the current budget that legislators assumed when they approved the early action budget bill last month.

“These aren’t the kinds of policy bills we enjoy voting on, but they are the kinds of bills required to do our job and balance our budget,” said Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), chair of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Most of the bills approved trim health care costs.

  • HB 1249, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle), modifies how the 220 nursing homes in Washington are reimbursed. The new methodology for calculating reimbursement is supported by a recent consultant study and will save about $38.5 million in the 2011-13 biennium.
  • HB 1544, sponsored by Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), restricts eligibility for the state’s Basic Health Plan to those eligible for the federal Medicaid waiver that provides a 50 percent federal match. This bill is considered a bridge until federal health care reform is implemented in 2014 when recipients will be fully covered by the federal government. The bill reduces BHP spending by $47 million in 2011-13.
  • HB 2003, sponsored by Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), modifies state support for another state health care program, Apple Health for Kids. This bill requires those families with incomes above 200 percent of federal poverty and not eligible for the federally-funded Children’s Health Insurance Program to pay full premiums. The savings are estimated at $2.5 million in 2011-13.

The other two bills approved include:

  • HB 1247, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Lake Forest Park), to modify minimum staffing levels at the state’s two Secure Community Transition Facilities which house sexually violent predators. The bill saves about $4.5 million in 2011-13.
  • HB 1547, sponsored by Rep. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), to save $3 million in unnecessary prison costs for certain alien offenders by speeding up their transfer from state to federal custody prior to deportation.

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