OLYMPIA…Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed into law two bills introduced by Sen. Shelly Short – one that increases awareness of the need for bone-marrow donors, while the other helps patients have access to the health-care benefits for which they have already paid in their health plans.
In February, the House voted 98-0 for Senate Bill 6155, or ‘Jada’s Law,’ which requires the state Department of Licensing to provide each driver’s license or identicard applicant with written materials regarding bone-marrow donation.
“It’s very important to educate more people about the need for bone-marrow donors and to generate more interest in the national marrow-donor program,” said Short, R-Addy. “There is no greater thing we can do than to help save a life of someone who is in need of a bone-marrow donor.”
This legislation is now the first of its kind in the nation, Short said.
“My intention with Senate Bill 6155 was to begin a nationwide conversation about the importance of bone marrow donation. Ultimately, my hope is that it becomes a template for other states to follow!”
Short introduced ‘Jada’s Law’ after learning about the moving story of one of her Deer Park constituents, Jeana Moore, and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Jada Bascom. Soon after Bascom was born in April 2007, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer that starts in the bone marrow.
After chemotherapy did not work, her family sought a bone-marrow transplant. But out of 7 million people in the National Bone Marrow Registry at that time, not a single match was found. Bascom’s family widened the search to Europe, and a match was found in Germany. On Nov. 27, 2007, Bascom received the lifesaving transplant.
“Jada’s amazing story, along with her grandmother Jeana’s own tireless efforts, inspired me to introduce this bill to raise awareness about the need for bone-marrow donors so that those in need of a transplant can find a match sooner and closer to them,” Short said.
The House last month voted 90-8 to approve Short’s second proposal, Senate Bill 6157, which allows people better access to health care by changing an insurance carrier’s initial prior-authorization process. The change enables patients to have six consecutive treatment visits, without prior authorization, with specialty-care providers that have been determined to be medically necessary.
“I am thrilled with the outcome of this bipartisan legislation and the governor’s approval of this into law,” Short said. “This was a hard-fought battle throughout the entire 60-day session. It is a huge victory for patient access to needed care.”
Short said SB 6157 culminates nearly two years of work with insurance carriers, providers and patients that began with one of Short’s constituents from Deer Park, Stephanie Littrel, who had had difficulty receiving timely access to care.
“Stephanie came and testified in Olympia during last year’s work session to share her story. Her own struggle highlighted the need for change,” Short said. “Stephanie told me she hoped she could help others by bringing attention to this practice.
“So many other patients and providers throughout our district came forward as well to share their frustrations on this issue,” Short added. “Ultimately, giving patients that access to timely care allows them the best chance of recovery without extended opioid use or surgery.”
Short said SB 6157 does not expand health benefits.
“This bill helps patients have access to the health-care benefits they already paid for,” Short said. “It does not prevent the insurers’ use of prior authorization. In fact, many carriers in this state told me they already internally allow up to six visits. The unfortunate problem and the reason for this legislation is the lack of consistency in how they do that.”