Advocating for healthy futures
As many people know, 2015 was a year filled with unique challenges for our state legislature. There were a lot of difficult decisions that had to be made and important programs that needed to be funded, and at the same time there wasn’t a lot of consensus on how to address these issues. This resulted in the longest legislative session in Washington State history (178 days) and a near-shutdown of our state government. Ultimately the legislature did pass a $38.2 billion two-year operating budget that included major investments in education and transportation.
That’s the news that made the headlines.
But in that budget, there were also a lot of unsung wins for Washington families. During the 2015 legislative session, WithinReach saw incredible support for our legislative priorities and some very exciting wins:
Vaccine Coverage for the Children’s Health Program – In order to make progress toward achieving Washington’s immunization goal rate of 80%, we need to ensure universal access to vaccines. The funding needed to provide full vaccine coverage for kids on the Washington Apple Health–Children’s Health Program was included in the final 2015-17 operating budget ($2.343mil total).
Universal Developmental Screening for All Children (SB 5317) – The Bright Futures guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal screening of children for autism and developmental conditions. Senate Bill 5317 sought to bring equity to coverage of developmental screening by requiring full coverage of these screenings for kids on Apple Health. HB5317 passed the legislature, has been signed by Governor Inslee, and received full funding in the final 2015-17 operating budget ($1.422mil total). Children on Apple Health will receive coverage for developmental and autism screenings starting on January 1, 2016.
Apple Health for Kids Hotline Funding & Maintaining a Robust Navigator Program – Buying insurance can be difficult and both the Apple Health for Kids Hotline and the Navigator Program under the Health Benefit Exchange are vital tools that provide the assistance families often need when applying for health care coverage. Both programs received ongoing funding in the final 2015-17 operating budget and therefore will be able to continue to provide much needed support to individuals and families in Washington.
At WithinReach, we believe that healthy, resilient families make strong communities. Driven by the goal of breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives, WithinReach advocates for public policy and budget matters that directly advance our mission and relate to our five key focus areas: breastfeeding, health care access, child development, immunizations, and food access.
We are actively working on preparing for the 2016 legislative session and are excited to keep working public policies that elevate the issues that will improve health outcomes for Washington families. More to come as we get closer to 2016, but for now you can come and support our policy efforts by joining us at the first annual Big Wigs & Swigs event!