Rep. Sells’ Newsletter: Regional Safety Centers, Health Network Adequacy, Helping Families in Need

Regional Safety Centers

Current law requires school districts to adopt and implement “safe school plans” that include procedures for disaster prevention, intervention, all hazard/crisis response, and postcrisis recovery. To the extent funds are available, school districts must annually review and update these plans.

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A measure that passed the House yesterday on an 83-14 vote will create “Regional Safety Centers” across the state to provide training, support, and coordination to educators and students. This comprehensive approach will benefit school districts with additional support through the Educational Service Districts (ESDs), especially in rural and underserved areas where resources tend to be fewer and geographically dispersed.

This legislation focuses on increasing capacity, support, and implementation of best practices at the state, regional, and local levels. It makes modest investments that can have a meaningful impact on the lives of students, teachers and staff every day.

The goal is to increase student safety and student well-being. Washington’s 1.1 million students don’t just need to feel safe, they need to be safe.

What is health network adequacy, and why does it matter?

When we choose a health insurance plan, we look at what benefits the plan covers and the network of providers available. We assume that the services will be available when we need them. However, what if the plan is supposed to cover something like behavioral health care, but accessing the network to get that care is hit or miss?

The results can be tragic, as was the case when Rachel Smith’s son, Brennen, was having a behavioral health crisis. He died by suicide before he was able to get the care supposedly available to him through his health plan.

Rachel Smith testifying

This morning we unanimously passed House Bill 1099 requiring health plans to provide notice about network adequacy to consumers. This would include estimates of the percentage of time enrollees are able to access covered services within time limits set by the state Insurance Commissioner. With this information, consumers could make more informed decisions when selecting a health plan.

family of 4

Helping families in need

For families living paycheck to paycheck, the reality of needing financial assistance is just one big expense or illness away. When families are truly in need, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program provides a lifeline. But people are struggling with the onerous and outdated requirements of the program.

In a recent Seattle Times op-ed, Representative Tana Senn and Senator Joe Nguyen tell the story of how the requirements are harming families that are trying desperately to play by the rules.

House Bill 1603, which passed the House last night on a 69-28 vote, will make changes to TANF requirements – like providing more flexibility for people who are homeless or allowing an online orientation, instead of an in person one.

I support helping families when they need it the most, not creating more barriers during a trying time in their lives.

Thank you for reading my newsletter.  If you need more information on any of the issues discussed here, or on any other legislative matter, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.


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