Major Accomplishments, Health and Human Services

Reviving a Dying Health Insurance Market

  • After two sessions of negotiation, won passage of major reforms in market for individual health insurance policies. Included safety net for low-income and ailing citizens and incentives to bring back insurers statewide.

Providing Lower-Cost Drugs to Seniors and Disabled

  • Created programs in which seniors and the disabled can buy prescription drugs at a lower cost. Also took steps to reduce the cost of prescription drugs to the state.

Giving Patients a Bill of Rights

  • Signed Patient Bill of Rights to give back to managed-care patients and their doctors more control over health care decisions; allows consumers to sue HMOs; better protects patient privacy.
  • Maintaining enrollments in the Basic Health Plan for working families at 125,000 for the next two years.

Building enrollments in the Basic Health Plan for working families.

  • Signed legislation and took other steps to ensure the survival of Washington’s unique Basic Health Plan offering low-cost health insurance to Washington’s working poor. Helped lay groundwork for BHP enrollment to increase over the next few years from 125,000 to an expected 170,000.

Taking Better Care of Our Children

  • Created Children’s Health Insurance Program to expand health coverage for children to about 15,000 additional kids.
  • Improved health and safety for children in state care. Includes more respite care for foster parents; more caseworkers (one for every 25 clients); better tools to measure risks for clients; expanding child placing agencies capacity by 30 percent; providing resources to recruit foster parents and increase basic foster care rates. $14.4 million GF-State (01-03)

Protecting Our Children From Tobacco Addiction

  • Helped create the Tobacco Addiction Prevention Control Fund, a $100 million endowment, using tobacco settlement funds, to support public health efforts to help Washington people—particularly teenagers—quit smoking.

Enhancing Boarding Home Quality and Safety

  • Transferred regulatory authority over boarding homes to ensure better inspections and accountability.
  • Boosted the oversight of state licensed boarding homes so that inspections are completed at least annually.

Making Hospitals More Accountable

  • Won legislation requiring DOH to disclose all hospital licensing and complaint investigation information upon request.

Making Food Safer

  • Directed the State Board of Health to implement rules requiring labeling of unpasteurized juice.

Improving Community Care for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities

  • Increased the number of case managers who monitor home care services; staff have more time to check on quality of services.
  • Increased the number of adult protective services workers who investigate reports of abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults.
  • Won passage of new law allowing DSHS to get court orders protecting disabled domestic violence victims.
  • Increased wages of home care workers in each of the past two years.
  • Won passage of law requiring tougher training standards for all community care workers.
  • Required all home care workers to complete an inter-state criminal background check.
  • Improved health and safety for elderly and disabled persons in state care. Includes a 50 cents-an-hour increase in long-term care worker wages to attract better providers, and funding to provide more caseworkers for the developmentally disabled, so that there is one caseworker for every 75 clients, as opposed to 108 per caseworker now. Additional funding is provided for better supervision and residential support for developmentally disabled persons who pose a threat to the community. $27.2 million GF-State. (01-03)
  • Improved mental health services. Includes increased counseling and medication management in juvenile facilities, and an increase in the number of chemical dependency involuntary treatment beds at Eastern Washington State Hospital. $4.3 million GF-State. (01-03)
  • Allowed people with disabilities the chance to keep their Medicaid benefits when they leave Supplemental Security Income to go to work. $2 million other State, $2 million Federal. (01-03)
  • Created a statewide infrastructure and developed funding sources to better respond to threats of bioterrorism.

Creating a Healthy Workplace

  • Instructed Department of Labor and Industries to start implementing cutting edge ergonomics rules to protect the safety and health of workers on the jobs.

Improving Public Health

  • Developed a DNA fingerprinting technique at the Department of Health, which can identify an E-coli outbreak in 24 hours, instead of the 7 days it used to take.
  • Ensured safe drinking water for local communities through low-interest loans for improvements to public drinking water systems. Since 1997, nearly $65 million in loans have been committed.
  • Improved health care services. Includes increased reimbursements to struggling rural hospitals; more funding for AIDS treatment; the addition of the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to the list of universal distribution state-funded vaccines; and funding to help local water systems ensure a clean water supply. $5.4 million GS-State. (01-03)
  • Improved services for military veterans with funding to help Filipino Veterans, and to establish an Eastern Washington Veterans Home. $48,000 GF-State, $11 million Federal. (01-03)
  • Raised payments to human services vendors by 2.1 percent in fiscal year 2002 and 2.3 percent the next year. These vendors include private contractors that provide essential supports and services to the state’s most vulnerable populations. Funding is also provided for a special 10 percent vendor increase for four facilities that supply residential treatment for severely troubled children. $89 million GF-State. (01-03)

Enhancing Services for Homeless Families with Children

  • Won legislation that clarified the state’s role in providing services to homeless families with children.
  • Secured $27.6 million for increased emergency shelter assistance, transitional housing opportunities, and additional low-income housing.

Reducing Welfare Costs

  • Simplified welfare rules and regulations for deciding who is eligible for welfare, childcare, job training and other benefits. At the Department of Social and Health Services, 275 positions will be eliminated through attrition. Saves $2 million GF-State. (01-03)

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