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Habib bills to aid entrepreneurs, boost kids’ health signed into law

Rep. Cyrus Habib - Reporter file photo
Rep. Cyrus Habib
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The state’s economy would get a boost from entrepreneurs tapping into an innovative source of financing to start businesses and create jobs, under the Washington Jobs Act of 2014, a bill signed by Gov. Inslee on March 28.

“Start-up businesses – from food trucks to software developers – can get the money they need to get off the ground,” the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Cyrus Habib, said when the bill passed the House earlier this year. “And ordinary people from across the state can share in those businesses’ success.”

Habib’s House Bill 2023 allows Washingtonians to engage in equity crowdfunding, the practice of raising money, often over the Internet, by soliciting small investments from numerous investors. An outgrowth of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding techniques have been popularized by ventures like Kickstarter. But entrepreneurs are hampered in the use of crowdfunding by complex securities regulations that are expensive and burdensome.

The bill is tailored to apply only to Washington state companies raising limited amounts of capital in small individual amounts from in-state investors. If the measure becomes law, Washington would join only a handful of states that have eased access to equity crowdfunding.

Inslee also signed HB 2153, a Habib bill guaranteeing that insurance companies cover the elemental formula necessary to feed children who suffer from a rare gastrointestinal disorder.

Those who suffer from the eosinophilia disorder are unable to break down proteins and must get their essential  proteins through the special formula. If the treatment is delivered through an invasive feeding tube, the expensive formula is covered by insurance. But if the patient can swallow the formula, many private insurers will not cover the cost.

The treatment costs approximately $1,200 per month and many families have great difficulty covering the out-of-pocket cost. Mandating insurance coverage would help those families afford life-saving treatment for their children.

The bill would require that health plans offer benefits or coverage for medically necessary elemental formula, regardless of delivery method, when a licensed health-care provider diagnoses a patient with eosinophilia gastrointestinal disorder and supervises the use of the elemental formula.

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