Washington State House Democrats


Measure to give homeless youth access to health care passes House

OLYMPIA – By a 90-7 margin, the House today passed a measure granting school officials the authority to provide consent for non-emergent medical services for homeless youth.

“Imagine a homeless teenager with a raging case of strep throat or a seriously sprained ankle who must forgo care until they need emergency hospitalization,” said prime sponsor of the bill Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland). “No child should be deprived of necessary health care simply because there isn’t a responsible adult to authorize the care, or because the malady has yet become an emergency.”

The rally for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day held at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, February 2, 2016. Speakers included Rep. Joan McBride, Senator Mark Miloscia and Rep. June Robinson.

If enacted, HB 2396 would authorize school nurses, counselors, and homeless student liaisons to provide consent for homeless, unaccompanied youth to receive nonemergency, outpatient primary care services.

“Young people experiencing homelessness are already facing enough challenges – this is one small but compassionate step in the right direction,” said Rep. McBride

Homeless youth often cannot get consent for ordinary or chronic illnesses, and only when conditions progress to emergencies can these youth receive care. Waiting to treat these conditions to become emergent only makes the conditions worse and more costly to treat.

The measure now moves to the Senate for further consideration.