Thursday, May 24, 2012

Legislative Update - Dodged the bullet this time...and had some wins!

As you know, the Legislature finished up a few weeks ago, and the results were a bit surprising given the place we started in December.  Amazingly, after some creative accounting, almost all of our priority programs were saved! This is partly due to the improved economy, decreased caseloads, and accounting maneuvers (whatever that means).  

We also saw great success with the passage of the Health Exchange bill (HB 2319)!  This is one more step in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  A very exciting development is the inclusion of a trigger that will allow the Insurance Commissioner’s office to address the specialty tier issue if it causes adverse selection in the exchanges. Listing critical drugs in the “specialty” tier frequently puts these necessary medications out of reach of many people living with MS. If you have a story about your experience with “specialty” tiers, please contact the chapter to share your story so that we can show our representatives that their constituents are suffering due to this unfair practice.

The Greater NW Chapter has been included in a task force contributing to establishing the minimum standards for the state Health Exchange network. This is a significant place at the table for the MS Community, as we are communicating the needs of the chronic disease community and establishing a consumer centric Health Exchange that will serve the needs of the consumers who truly need this service.

Over the last several months, we have joined forces with coalitions, such as Healthy Washington and the Long Term Care group/Aging Caucus, to help get our message across to our legislature. The passage of the Health Exchange bill proves we are definitely more effective when we join forces with other groups.  

We are thankful that our programs were “saved”, but after all of the cuts over the last several sessions, there isn’t much left to save. Now we need to focus on improving our safety net programs so that the needs of our community are served. Keep up the pressure on your state Legislators ( ) to protect and improve Basic Health, Disability Lifeline, and Medicaid so that that people living with MS will have access to the services so desperately needed.

 It’s Time for Action! Washington

Cheers! – Holly Hawker
Chair, Activism Committee
Greater NW Chapter, National MS Society

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