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Community Health 2024 Legislative Session Priorities

The Washington State Legislature recently convened for the 2024 legislative session on January 8th. In this short 60-day session, the legislature will pass the supplemental budget, hear new legislation, and re-work bills that did not make it across the finish line last year.

 

Both chambers continue to have strong Democratic majorities with a 59% majority in the House and Senate. We are also seeing some new leadership in the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee, which focuses on the state budget. Sen. June Robinson is the new Chair, and Sen. Joe Nguyen is the new Vice Chair.

 

 

Our three priorities for this legislative session are to increase the investment in Apple Health expansion to meet demand, expand school-based health programs and services, and continue capital investments in community dental clinics.

 

These are outlined in more detail below, along with an overview of the legislative timeline. Our member health centers will advocate for these priorities in Olympia on February 1 – sharing the impacts they will have for the communities they serve. You can support FQHCs in Washington and stay informed on legislative action at Save Health Care in Washington’s website. Click the button below to take action to support community health centers.



 

2024 Legislative Priorities


Increase Investment in Apple Health Expansion to Meet Demand:


Last session, the legislature made important, initial investments to make health care coverage accessible to undocumented immigrants in Washington. However, it is insufficient to meet the needs of uninsured immigrants.

 

This funding was a meaningful first step, but more must be done to ensure that all undocumented residents living below 138% of the federal poverty level are able to receive coverage.

 

Specifically, we ask lawmakers to secure additional funding for Apple Health Expansion to provide all eligible individuals with access to coverage. 


Expand School-Based Health Programs and Services 

 

School-based health centers (SBHCs) provide essential services at over 70 schools across the state, improving access to care and serving the needs of Washington students and their families. The convenience of having medical, dental, and mental health visits at school means students miss less school and parents miss less work.

 

Healthy students learn better, and school-based health care is also a key component to addressing the youth mental health crisis.

 

The Association and CHNW have partnered with the Washington School-Based Health Alliance (WA SBHA) to identify needs and advocate for legislative action to expand support of SBHCs. We appreciate their partnership and the work they have already done to secure an initial grant program.

 

Specifically, we ask lawmakers to invest $3.36 million in the operating budget to expand funding for the Department of Health’s SBHC Program, and we ask they invest $2 million in the capital budget to fund eight SBHC capital projects in seven districts by three FQHCs, one public health agency, and one school district. 

 

Continue Capital Investments in Community Dental Clinics

 

Since 2017, the legislature has invested in 43 community dental clinics that are expanding access to more than 86,000 dental patients. Unfortunately, more than 1.2 million Apple Health enrollees are still expected to go without dental care this year. 

 

Low-income individuals and communities of color face disproportionate barriers to dental care and oral health. Capital investments to build capacity at community dental clinics in Washington state will increase equitable opportunities for individuals to access dental care. 

 

To continue expanding care in Washington, this year we ask lawmakers to invest $452,000 in capital funding in new or expanded oral health facilities at three community health centers. The three projects include: CHC Snohomish (LD 38), Moses Lake CHC (LD 13), Community Health Association of Spokane (LD 6). 

 

 

Legislative Session Timeline

 

This short session has an expedited timeline for bills to be heard, discussed, and voted on before the legislature adjourns on March 7th. Here are a few key dates to track throughout session:

 

·        January 31st, 2024 – Last day to pass bills out of committee from the house of origin, except for fiscal committees (House fiscal committees and Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees).

·        February 5th, 2024 – Last day to pass bills out of committee from fiscal committees.

·        February 13th, 2024 – Last day to pass bills in house of origin.

·        February 21st, 2024 – Last day to pass bills out of committee from opposite house, except fiscal committees.

·        February 26th, 2024 – Last day to pass opposite house bills out of fiscal committees.

·        March 1st, 2024 – Last day to pass opposite house bills, except for matters necessary to implement budgets, differences between houses, and matters relating to interim and closing of session.

·        March 7th, 2024 – Last day of session

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