Two Simmons bills hear public testimony in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee

OLYMPIA—Two of Rep. Tarra Simmons’ (D-Bremerton) bills to improve access to health care were heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee last Friday, Jan. 19. 

The first of these was House Bill 1859, which concerns the rights of residents in long-term care facilities; and the second, House Bill 2145, concerns medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder. 

“HB 1859 is about restoring federal nursing home rights to our tenants in assisted living facilities and adult family homes,” said Simmons. “Those in nursing homes have rights to choosing their own medical providers, receiving visitors, can’t be evicted, and know that their belongings are safe—yet those living in assisted living or adult family homes do not have these same protections. 

 “Washington leads the way and is ahead of many other states in the nation in terms of developing alternatives to nursing homes, yet those who choose assisted living facilities and adult family homes sadly don’t have the same protections and rights as those in nursing homes. This bill would restore protections to these tenants and give them the peace of mind they deserve,” added Simmons. 

“House Bill 2145 is based on a national model known as the Jim Ramstad Act, which has already passed in five states around the country,” said Simmons. “This bill would hold health insurers accountable for discriminating against those with mental health and substance use disorders by wrongly denying coverage of care.  

“It’s an important issue to me personally as I am in long-term recovery with co-occurring behavioral health diagnoses, and I know how difficult it is to get care,” added Simmons. “Behavioral health and public safety are linked, whether we like it or not, and if we can remove some barriers to these challenges, we will be a healthier society.”