In the first two weeks of the legislative session, a surprising priority has emerged: creating new state programs explicitly designed to pay for things for people who are not United States citizens.
Senate Bills 6219 and 6105 would create new programs that exist exclusively to pay for contraception, abortions, and perhaps sex-change operations for people who are not U.S. Citizens and are not eligible under federal law for assistance.
Senate Bill 6219, which received a public hearing the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee this week, requires every health plan in Washington State to pay for sterilization and contraception. The bill also prohibits any form of cost-sharing through deductibles or copayments. Section 4 of the legislation directs the state to reimburse costs for those who are not U.S. citizens.
Senate Bill 6105 also creates a program to reimburse costs for “medically appropriate services” for non-citizens but the list of things covered is more expansive and includes screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, counseling for diseases, and “services, drugs, devices and products for… gender dysphoria”
The bill does not explicitly authorize gender reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria, but it is arguably a “service” for the treatment of gender dysphoria. It certainly includes hormones for sex-changes.
Not only does the bill explicitly provide services for people who are not U.S. citizens, but it also lacks any requirements that beneficiaries be residents in Washington State.
SB 6105 could make Washington State a destination for the world’s gender dysphoric who would prefer to have Washingtonians pay for their surgeries. Gender concealment surgery is rarely covered by insurance.
One other bill pertaining to birth control and conscience rights is Senate Bill 6102 which requires employers who provide health insurance to cover every form of birth control, including abortifacients, at no cost to employees. Section 1 of the bill states it is a direct response to actions at the federal level that have given businesses like Hobby Lobby the freedom not to pay for things that violate their beliefs. Sponsors of this bill want to ensure that Washington businesses have no choice.
SB 6105 and SB 6102 will both have a public hearing at 10 a.m. in the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Monday, January 16th
Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.