WSNA in Olympia: 2021 Legislative Session Week 3

In this week’s update:

      • Week 3 Recap
      • COVID-19 Relief: Early Action Budget
      • Speaking up for Health Care Worker Protections
      • Advocating for Public Health Funding
      • ACTION: Support ARNP Reimburse­ment Parity
      • Upcoming Events: Lobby Day

Week 3

Policy hearings continued this week, and WSNA weighed in on numerous bills. As a reminder, all hearings and meetings with legis­la­tors are taking place over Zoom and are being aired on TVW. WSNA’s 2021 Legisla­tive Prior­i­ties are avail­able online.

We are gearing up for the 2021 WSNA Lobby Day next week – register today and join us online next Thursday, Feb. 4 to meet with your legis­la­tors! More infor­ma­tion is below.

COVID-19 Relief: Early Action Budget

The House held a hearing this week on a $2.2 billion COVID-19 relief package that the legis­la­ture plans to pass as an early action budget. The majority of these funds are from federal CARES Act dollars. The package includes:

  • $618 million for vaccine admin­is­tra­tion, contract tracing and testing (includes emphasis on helping school districts reopen safely)
  • $668 million for schools as they resume in-person learning plus dedicated funding to help students catch up from learning loss during the pandemic
  • $365 million for rental assis­tance to help tenants and landlords impacted by the pandemic
  • $240 million for more than 12,000 small business assis­tance grants (admin­is­tered through the state Depart­ment of Commerce)
  • $70 million to assist undoc­u­mented immigrants who have been impacted by the pandemic, but do not qualify for federal or state assistance
  • $26 million for food assis­tance to individ­uals and house­holds in need
  • $50 million in grants to help child­care businesses stay open and expand capacity

The funding for schools will be distrib­uted to school districts – and offers an oppor­tu­nity to support school nurses.

Speaking up for Health Care Worker Protec­tions

On Thursday, WSNA nurses joined other health care workers in supporting SB 5190 which would provide health care workers with presump­tive eligi­bility for workers compen­sa­tion and unemploy­ment benefits during a public health emergency. WSNA nurses shared their experi­ences with contracting COVID, running out of paid time off, and never being told by their employer that they could apply for workers compen­sa­tion.

Senator Holy, who sponsored this bill, opened with remarks about how we give presump­tive eligi­bility benefits to fire fighters and police for on-the-job illness and injury – and he said it is uncon­scionable that we do not have these same protec­tions for health care workers.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Inslee has directed the State Depart­ment of Labor & Indus­tries to make health care workers eligible for workers compen­sa­tion for COVID-19 related illness or quaran­tine. Yet, WSNA nurses around the state report that they are either not being told they can apply for workers comp or they are being discour­aged from applying.

Advocating for Public Health Funding

For 20 years, WSNA has advocated for a stable, dedicated, and long-term funding source for public health. On Wednesday, WSNA’s Legisla­tive & Health Policy Council Chair Justin Gill testi­fied in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on the Governor’s proposed Covered Lives Tax to fund Founda­tional Public Health Services, SB 5149 sponsored by Senator June Robinson. Justin spoke in support of the measure, but highlighted that the tax should not be passed on to consumers. Instead, Justin suggested that health insur­ance carriers should cover the cost since they are sitting on $4 billion in unrestricted surplus – rather than the cost being passed on to employers or individ­uals and families.

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ACTION: Support ARNP Reimburse­ment Parity

This session, Senator Emily Randall is sponsoring a bill, SB 5222, to provide ARNPs with reimburse­ment. This bill has a hearing on Feb. 1 in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Due to the remote legisla­tive session this year, individ­uals can sign-in remotely to support this bill. NOTE: When signing-in, please leave the organi­za­tion” blank; do not put the name of your employer or WSNA in this box. This is so that your employer and WSNA can enter their official organi­za­tional positions on the record without confu­sion.

Instruc­tions for signing-in:
SIGN IN SUPPORT: You can begin doing this right away, ability ends 1 hour before start of the hearing Monday, 2/1/2021 (by 12:30pm).
Start at this link: https://​app​.leg​.wa​.gov/​csiremote/
1. Choose Senate
2. Choose Committee: Health & Long Term Care
3. To the right of the committee selec­tion, Choose Meeting: 2/01/21 1:30PM
4. Select Agenda Item: SB 5222 ARNP Reimburse­ment Rate
5. Select Type of Testi­mony: I would like my position noted for the legisla­tive record
6. Choose position: Pro
7. Fill out the remaining identi­fying infor­ma­tion, leaving organi­za­tion” blank
8. Submit

Upcoming Events

Just like the legisla­tive session, our Lobby Day will be held virtu­ally this year. Legis­la­tors want to hear from you. Join us – your voice is more essen­tial than ever.

February 4 WSNA Lobby Day

More infor­ma­tion and regis­tra­tion links are here.

This event is for WSNA members only.

Please look for regular email updates on legisla­tive action as the legisla­tive session gets underway – we look forward to your partic­i­pa­tion in the process!