With Gov. Jay Inslee’s signoff, birth doulas in Washington State have established their work as a profession based on voluntary competency-based state certification, paving the way for reimbursement under Medicaid. ESHB 1881 passed both chambers in Olympia earlier this month, where it drew broad support, passing with a wide margin of 85–8, backing from both parties in the House, and unanimous support in the Senate, according to a media release from Surge Reproductive Justice, an organization backing the legislation. It was among a docket of bills Inslee signed into law on Wednesday, March 30, in a ceremony at the State Capitol streamed live on TVW.
And Is COVID Situated to Make That Scenario Even Worse?
by Liz Covey, LMHC
Nearly every day, therapists in private practice steel themselves for the inevitable: an email inbox that overflows with new patient requests from people who have been desperately looking for long weeks or months for an opening to begin to work on psychological issues or problems that are either long-standing or pandemic-related, or more commonly, both. Clients seeking to use their health insurance for therapy are likely to find themselves in a deadlock these days thanks to staffing shortages. If a potential client uses the state Medicaid program, Apple Health/Molina, the chance of finding an opening is even slimmer, since the amount of red tape plus lower pay mean even fewer therapists are available to these patients.
And if no one is available in-network, prospective clients will likely find themselves on the open market for therapy and can be startled by the price tag. Private pay therapy in Seattle in 2022 can cost between $100–$250 per session. Many therapists offer sliding fee scales, meaning that they reserve spots for lower-fee work, but these are limited so they can be even harder to find.
This has many today asking: Why does therapy cost so much? Let’s consider some of the factors that contribute to this high fee:
A new parent in poverty has more health protection in Washington because of a bill signed on April 16 by Gov. Jay Inslee. Senate Bill 5068 extends coverage to new mothers for an entire year after their child’s birth if they are covered by the state’s Medicaid program, known as Apple Health.
The bill covers a gap in Medicaid coverage that will impact about 10,000 people in Washington state who lose coverage 60–90 days postpartum. People who were on Medicaid prior to being pregnant, and who qualify for Medicaid based on an income level about 300% of the federal poverty line are not affected and will continue to be covered. Those in the range of between 193% and 300% of the federal poverty level will now receive postpartum coverage thanks to the bill.
At least one physician, Lillian Wu, M.D., told the Emerald in an email that her patient’s face lit up with relief when she heard about the bill’s passage. The patient has a condition, which will now be covered for longer. Wu is the president of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians and practices in Renton.