Access, affordability and maintenance of health care coverage will be the three top priorities of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee in the 2019 legislative session, Sen. Annette Cleveland said today.

Cleveland (D-Vancouver) was selected by her colleagues to continue as chair of the health care committee when the Legislature convenes Jan. 14, tapping her considerable experience in the industry.

“For too many households today, the topic of health care is a cause for anxiety rather than peace of mind, which is the opposite of what it should be,” Cleveland said. “People deserve to be able to access health care at prices they can afford. Other countries provide this and there’s no reason we can’t do it just as well.

“My priorities are three-fold: First, to maintain existing health care coverage in the face of efforts at the federal level to roll back coverage; second, to make sure all households can access the coverage they need for themselves and their family members; and third, to contain costs so that families can afford the health care they need.”

Formerly the ranking member on the health care committee when Democrats were in the Senate minority, Cleveland ascended to the chair last year when Democrats won control of the Senate. Under her leadership, the Senate was able to pass numerous bills to improve women’s health that had stalled in recent years. Gains included laws to ensure women receive a full range of reproductive health services and to better detect early signs of breast cancer — the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second most common cause of death among women — through 3-D mammograms and breast density information.

Among Cleveland’s priorities for the 2019 session is to codify existing health care standards at the federal level into state law so that Washingtonians will continue to receive the care they need even if standards are reduced at the federal level.

“Many in Congress and in the White House have made no secret of their desire to roll back key health care reforms that were passed in 2010,” Cleveland said. “By taking action at the state level, we can ensure that Washingtonians will continue to receive a full range of care.”

Cleveland will also continue to serve on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Rules Committee and has been chosen to serve on the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee.

“The decision to expand the focus of the human services committee to emphasize reentry and rehabilitation is a good one and addresses an area I look forward to working on,” Cleveland said. “The ability to recover and resume a productive role can fundamentally affect a person’s health.”

In transportation, she looks to continue to make progress toward a new I-5 bridge.

“Transportation is important in all communities but especially in my district, where the construction of a new bridge across the Columbia River will determine our ability to travel reliably and efficiently and also to spark economic growth for our region,” Cleveland said. “That continues to be a major priority for me, so I’m pleased to continue on the committee where I can voice strong support for infrastructure.”