2019 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

Ensuring Reproductive Health Care Access for All

The Reproductive Health Access for All (RHAA) Act aims to fill gaps in existing law to ensure reproductive health access for all people in Washington. The bill specifically addresses the needs of Washington's immigrant and transgender communities.

Background: In 2018, the Washington Legislature passed the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) to protect and expand access to reproductive health care for Washingtonians. But the RPA left gaps in coverage for DACA recipients, undocumented immigrants, and other immigrants who cannot access state medical services due to federal restrictions; and for transgender and gender non-conforming people, whose specific needs were not included in the RPA’s list of required-coverage services, and who routinely face discrimination, harassment, and denials of coverage when seeking reproductive health care.

 

The RHAA seeks to fill these gaps in access by:

  • creating a state-funded program to cover comprehensive reproductive health care services for immigrants who currently cannot access state medical services;

  • requiring outreach and education about this new program, ensuring those who need it know that it’s available and how to access it;

  • explicitly prohibiting gender identity discrimination, including automatic denials based on gender identity, in all reproductive health services covered by Medicaid and private insurance plans;

  • correcting the RPA to explicitly include student health plans; and

  • identifying the enforcement mechanisms for complaints of discrimination.

Legal Voice is advocating for this bill through our work with the Health Equity and Reproductive Rights Organizations (HERRO) Coalition. HERRO brings together advocacy organizations and reproductive health care providers in Washington to advance equity in sexual and reproductive rights, health, and justice.

Update as of 4/26/19: SB 5602 passed the Senate with a 28–17 vote! The bill also passed the House of Representatives. However, before the House vote, the bill was amended to remove a fundamental provision that ensured access to family planning services for undocumented immigrants. Since the two chambers passed different versions of the bill, the Senate was asked to concur with the changes the House made. Ultimately, the two chambers agreed on a bill that removed the protections for undocumented immigrants. However, legislators secured funding for such services via a budget proviso. This ensure services will be covered for two years and allows advocates to return to Olympia next session to codify those protections into law.

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