Legislative Update: Health coverage access, low carbon fuel standard, and more

Addressing health insurance costs & opioid use disorder

Since Republicans in the OTHER Washington aren’t letting up on trying to take away health care for millions of Americans, we’re looking at possible solutions within the existing system that keep people healthy and insured. Eileen is sponsoring the Washington Reinsurance Program, which will stabilize insurance plan rates and premiums.

The proposed program (HB 2355) reimburses your health care provider when a claim goes over the market rate at a certain percentage. There is a cap, but this helps mitigate the impact high-cost individuals have on premiums and should stabilize or even reduce individual market premiums. We’re able to do all this with existing resources and through an assessment paid for by all health care providers.

Another issue the Legislature is looking at is further legislation on preventing and treating opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorder is a public health crisis and we are working on new legislation that focuses on using evidence-based strategies, including medication-assisted treatment. The bill also directs state and county agencies to leverage every federal dollar we can to treat addiction and provide emergency overdose treatments. We’ll continue discussing and working on this bill, as well as other legislation to fight opioid use disorder.

Low carbon fuel standard and ending the “debtor’s prison”

We’ve heard from many of you about the need for meaningful action on addressing climate change. It poses an existential threat to our state and to our way of life. The effects are already impacting us: increased frequency of extreme weather events, flooding, mudslides, drought, wildfires, and ocean acidification. The changes are getting worse, and our state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not keeping pace.

Because the transportation sector is our state’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions by far, Joe is sponsoring a bill to establish a clean fuels program, as California and Oregon have already done. Also known as a low carbon fuel standard, this program would improve local air quality as well as provide economic benefits to Washington communities by increasing demand for biofuels produced here. The bill had a public hearing last week.

Finally, both of us were pleased to vote in favor of a bill last week that makes a long-overdue change to our criminal justice system. House Bill 1783 will help people get back on their feet once they get out of prison, not keep them locked in a figurative debtor’s prison with no hope of ever getting out. It places the priority on victim restitution – where it belongs – and does away with punitive interest rates that were nothing but a disincentive to repayment. When people can meet their financial obligations and get their lives back on track, they are less likely to reoffend and end up back in prison. That’s better for them, better for their families, and better for the safety of our communities.

Reps Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody speaking on floor of the house

Please contact our offices if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns. We look forward to sharing updates as the legislative session continues.

Thanks for reading!