23rd District Update: Prison Visits and Apple Health

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you have been having a fantastic summer! It has been wonderful to be back at home from Olympia. This interim I have been keeping busy meeting with constituents, getting out in our community, and working with my organization Civil Survival. I have also continued my effort to get my colleagues in the Legislature to visit a prison. Read on to learn about my trips to the Washington State Penitentiary and the Washington Corrections Center. There is an important Apple Health update at the end.

Visit to Washington State Penitentiary

Group photo

Last year, I challenged my fellow lawmakers to visit a prison and talk to their incarcerated constituents. This June, I led some of my colleagues (Rep. Mary Fosse, Representative Mia Su-Ling Gregerson, Rep. Strom Peterson, and Rep. Stephanie Barnard) on a tour of the Washington State Penitentiary. We joined the Black Prisoners Caucus for a Juneteenth celebration in the morning and then toured a cell block, the medical facilities, and the Sustainable Practices Lab in the afternoon.

Rep. Simmons views art

Thank you to everyone at the Department of Corrections who is working to make our carceral system less traumatic and more focused on rehabilitation. The Sustainable Practices Lab is self-sustaining and operated through charitable donations. Its programs use recycled materials to create unique art and agricultural products that are used to support non-profits across the state. Incarcerated individuals can develop skills and portfolios that will help them once they leave incarceration. Some of the programs include a wood re-use program, a fabric re-use program, a sign shop, an art shop, a furniture repair shop, an upholstery shop, a metal shop, a honeybee program, and a vermiculture program that has grown over 15 million “red wiggler” earthworms.

Wooden coffee tables and a wooden motor trike.

When incarcerated people are met with dignity and compassion, they can achieve incredible results. I promise to keep pushing our state toward treating those who are incarcerated with dignity and providing real opportunities for growth.

Members discuss the teddy bear making station

Pow Wow at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton

Group photo at Pow Wow
Incarcerated person’s face blurred as per DOC policy

Earlier this month, my seatmate Rep. Drew Hansen and I visited the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton to attend a Pow Wow. It was a beautiful ceremony and a great chance to learn more about how we can make our corrections facilities truly rehabilitative and healing for people of all faith backgrounds.

What to Know About the End of Pandemic-Era Medicaid Coverage

Apple Health graphic

During the pandemic, the Health Care Authority (HCA) extended coverage for all Apple Health (Medicaid) clients but due to federal action, that extension is ending. If you use Apple Health for health care, you should log on to Washington Healthplanfinder at wahealthplanfinder.org to ensure your contact and income information is up to date.

If you are still eligible, you will be re-enrolled in Apple Health. If you no longer qualify, you can select a new health plan on the Healthplanfinder within 60 days to prevent a gap in your coverage. Most people who will lose Apple Health coverage can get a Cascade Care plan for less than $10 a month. Find out if you qualify or switch to a Cascade Care Silver or Gold plan at wahealthplanfinder.org.

For enrollment assistance, there are experts in many areas across the state. Find one near you at wahealthplanfinder.org or the WAPlanfinder app. You can also call customer support at 1-855-923-4633.

Thank you for reading my legislative newsletter. I will continue updating you periodically throughout the interim. Please continue to reach out to my office with your thoughts, concerns, and ideas!


Rep. Tarra Simmons