Governor signs duo of Bailey health-care bills into law

In a signing ceremony at the state Capitol, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed two of Sen. Barbara Bailey’s bills from the 2018 legislative session.

Senate Bill 5179 requires coverage for hearing instruments under public-employee and Medicaid programs. Under the new law, health plans offered to Medicaid enrollees and state employees must include coverage for hearing instruments beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Hearing instruments can cost more than $2,000, putting the vital devices out of reach for many low-income Washingtonians.

“Medicaid stopped covering hearing aids in 2011, and this is a long-overdue fix,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “This is about access and affordability for those suffering from hearing loss, which can mean all the difference. This law will not only help aging populations who are hard of hearing, but also low-income adults and children who may be struggling to succeed in class without access to hearing aids.”

Inslee also signed Senate Bill 6113, which creates stability for residents living in adult family homes. The law directs the Department of Social and Health Services, which regulates and licenses the facilities, to give priority processing of applications in order to prevent service delivery disruptions.

Under Bailey’s legislation, the Department of Social and Health Services would be permitted to prioritize applications for change of ownership of an adult family home when requested by the current owner. It also allows for priority processing of applications of provisional licenses.

“Adult family homes are an integral part of our long-term care system and we should be doing everything we can to support a stable living environment,” said Bailey. “These vulnerable populations that access adult family homes need stability. The regulating agency can now remove barriers for operators so that patients remain the priority.”

Adult family homes are residential settings that can house up to six nonrelated residents and provide a host of service, including help with activities of daily living, personal care and social services.