Better bills for a better Washington
There are two important bills I like to share with you. One involves rural broadband and the other health care. Both of these common-sense solutions do what good legislation should, they transcend party division by simply doing what's best for all of Washington.
First, let's talk about rural broadband. More than any other previous generation, we've been forced to reimagine communication. Because of the pandemic, we communicate with each other with fewer face-to-face interactions. Online tools that enable individuals to meet virtually have become normal in our day-to-day lives. Just a few short months ago, many of us had never even heard of Zoom. Now, it's used routinely in homes, offices, and classrooms.
In the COVID-era, using these online tools has brought new light to an old problem. Rural residents are getting left behind because they can't reliably access educational services, health care, business opportunities, and government agencies. In fact, residents that live outside of urban areas are often the least likely to have access to the high-speed internet service in our state. This lack not only affects students engaging in remote learning or workers communicating online, but the economic vitality and growth of many communities.
Rural Washingtonians deserve better. Reliable internet services are needed for school districts, businesses, manufacturers, and even agricultural activities—such as calculating crop and animal yields, distribution, and communication with customers.
For many of these reasons, I'm backing an effort to enhance the private sector's expansion of rural broadband. House Bill 1263 jumps many of the hurdles to providing broadband services to rural residents. The proposal seeks to provide a grant-based mechanism for investing in the infrastructure necessary for reliable internet services in rural areas. It would also help fill some funding gaps for school districts that cannot afford to expand their connectivity to existing services.
Next, let's talk about health care coverage. If you need a prosthetic device or orthotic service because of a disability, surgery or accident, cost should not prevent you from getting the help you need. Artificial limbs and other body parts can help people lead active full lives, and insurance plays a key role in helping people to afford them.
That's why I've sponsored a bipartisan effort to change the reimbursement rate for prosthetic and orthotic health care benefits. House Bill 1427, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline, would make the state regulated individual and group health plans benefit rate equivalent to Medicare for all prosthetic and orthotic services and devices. This simple adjustment could potentially help thousands of Washingtonians across the state.
Real solutions for a better Washington can only happen with your support. If either of these bills interest you, consider testifying remotely or submitting a comment online. If you need assistance, please contact my office. I am happy to help.
Rep. Greg Gilday has practiced law locally for several years. He and his wife, Megan, live on Camano Island with their two sons, Laker and Graham.