Randall, Caldier bills move on for consideration

Two bills sponsored by members of the 26th Legislative District have moved on for consideration after being approved by their respective chambers.

The state Senate voted 28-17 March 7 to pass the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA), a bill sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, which prohibits health care discrimination on the basis of immigration status or gender identity.

The bill creates a state-funded program to cover family planning services for undocumented Washingtonians who would be eligible for the federal Take Charge program if not for their immigration status. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in all reproductive health services covered by Medicaid and private insurance plans. In addition, it extends reproductive health care access requirements to student health plans.

“Our state has a proud history of protecting and expanding reproductive freedom,” Randall said. “But our transgender and undocumented neighbors have faced continued discrimination and barriers to care. This bill protects the most vulnerable communities and provides access to the essential health care they need and deserve.”

Last year, the Senate passed Sen. Steve Hobbs’s Reproductive Parity Act, SB 6219, which required all insurance plans in Washington state that cover maternity care to also cover the full range of reproductive health services.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

House approves Caldier bill

The House unanimously approved on March 7 a bill that would allow Washington state armed forces members who are deployed out of state to remotely renew their concealed pistol licenses.

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, sponsored House Bill 1934 at the request of a deployed soldier.

Under the measure, local law enforcement agencies are directed to implement a concealed pistol license renewal process that would allow mail or online application processes for Washington members of the armed forces who are serving out of state.

“Caldier said her constituent “told me he’s been a resident of Washington state for 22 years, but he’s deployed in the military in Virginia. He didn’t think it is fair to have to fly all the way across the country to Washington state just to renew his concealed weapons permit.

“This bill would allow our active-duty military men and women to renew their license by mail, or potentially online,” Caldier said. “It’s a small, but important step, to Washington members of the armed forces to keep our nation free.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Another bill in which Caldier was the prime sponsor — HB 1607 would provide more transparency and protection for consumers when a hospital, hospital systems or provider organizations are acquired or merged — passed the House 63-35 on March 8.

According to Caldier’s office, the measure — if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor — would require written notice to be given to the state attorney general at least 60 days before the effective date of a hospital or provider organization’s acquisition or merger.

“What happened is that patients could not get care anywhere in the area without being affiliated with this health care group,” Caldier said in a news release. “Once they secured a monopoly, they jacked up the rates and constituents began to email us. We contacted the attorney general’s office and an investigation began.”

In 2017, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit against CHI Franciscan, The Doctors Clinic and West Sound Orthopaedics, which merged in 2016. Caldier said that Ferguson had obtained documents and emails in which CHI Franciscan and TDC “privately touted the Kitsap transactions as a boon to their bottom line and harmful to patient care.”