Can you believe October is almost at our doorstep?! There are lots of beloved Fall events buzzing through the District, starting with Art All Night which begins this evening at 7pm. We have events happening in all 8 Wards, so check out an installation or activity in your neighborhood.
As you partake in the District’s upcoming fall festivities, please keep yourself and your family safe from the number of illnesses that show up this time of year. The “Flooster” (flu shot and COVID booster) is available at local pharmacies and health clinics. And if you are pregnant or over the age of 60, do consider getting vaccinated against RSV, a respiratory virus that wrecked havoc in our community last year. We’ve heard from a number of individuals looking for COVID-19 rapid tests. In addition to the federal distribution program, I’ve been working with DC Health to make tests more publicly available. The first distribution will be on Saturday, October 7 at the Georgia Avenue Open Streets event. DC Health will be at 2 locations (between Kenyon St NW and Irving St NW, and between Quincy St NW and Randolph St NW) on Georgia Ave distributing test kits from 9am-3pm.
This newsletter is full of information about upcoming hearings, great community events and initiatives, as well as what I’ve been up to legislatively and in the community over these past few weeks. Before I go, I want to acknowledge the looming federal government shutdown. While our local government activities will continue, we know that federal employees and contractors in our region may be hit hard. To support those who may be impacted by a federal government shutdown, DC Central Kitchen is launching an emergency response effort at the Ronald Reagan Building Plaza and The Arc on Monday, October 2. If the shutdown continues, DC Central Kitchen will provide 4 meals per person from Monday to Friday at 11 am to 2 pm at the Ronald Reagan Building Plaza and at The Arc from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Let’s hope this all gets resolved quickly.
Performance Oversight Roundtable on the Social Work License Modernization Amendment Act of 2023
Last Thursday, the Health Committee held a hearing on the Social Work License Modernization Amendment Act of 2023. Social workers, members of the public, and the chair of the Board of Social Work, and Associate Director of the Office of Health Professional Licensing Boards Aisha Nixon testified about the potential challenges, benefits, and effects of exempting associate and graduate social workers from examination for licensure. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found on the Council’s new Hearing Management System here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.
Last week, I introduced the Sense of the Council on the Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic Resolution of 2023 to urge the Mayor to declare the opioid crisis as a public health crisis in the District. I recommended several community members to sit on the Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission so we can start making progress toward our goal – ending the District’s opioid crisis. The Committee on Health is also working on several joint hearings with the Fire and EMS Department, the Department of Behavioral Health, and the Department of Health as we tackle the crisis.
This week, I introduced three pieces of legislation that would increase financial assistance for students, educators, and foster youth:
The Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act of 2023 establishes a student loan debt repayment assistance program for educators who teach and reside in the District.
The Universal Free Application for Federal Student Aid Graduation Requirement Act of 2023 would require each public high school student to file a free application for Federal Student Aid with the United States Department of Education as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma.
The Alternative Restorative Therapy Options for Youth Amendment Act of 2023 requires Child and Family Services Agency to offer alternative forms of therapy to children served by the agency.
Health Committee Markup
On Tuesday, the Health Committee held an additional meeting to vote on 10 measures, including reforms to improve patient access to medication and care:
The Committee on Health recommended approval for the Prior Authorization Reform Amendment Act of 2023 at the additional meeting. This legislation would improve access to health care by establishing a suite of guidelines and protections to ensure District residents enrolled in health benefit plans can access medications and medically appropriate care without undue burden or delay. The legislation creates the following new guidelines:
Sets strict time limits so that prior authorizations for urgent health services must be decided within 24 hours, and for most other care must be decided within 3 business days if information is submitted through the insurer’s electronic portal, or 5 business days if information is submitted by phone, mail, or fax.
Requires transparency of prior authorization requirements and of data regarding the insurer’s use of prior authorizations and rates of denials.
Sets qualifications to ensure physicians reviewing prior authorization requests and appeals have appropriate training and experience with the treatments they are reviewing.
Prohibits prior authorization requirements based solely on cost and sets continuity of care requirements for enrollees who switch health insurance plans.
Public Roundtable on the Nomination of Pamela A. Smith to be the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
On Wednesday, the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety held a Public Roundtable on the nomination of Acting Police Chief Pamela A. Smith. In her opening statement, Councilmember Henderson expressed the importance of increasing police morale, bolstering crime prevention efforts, and retaining younger officers within the force. Additionally, Councilmember Henderson expressed her interest in Smith’s background with the U.S. Park Police, her vision for MPD, and her strategy to address the District’s opioid crisis. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found on the Council’s new Hearing Management System here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.
The Council’s next Legislative Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3, at 12pm followed by a Committee of the Whole Meeting. You can watch the meetings on the Council website.
On Wednesday, October 4,at 9:30 am The Committee on Transportation and Environment and the Committee on Public Works and Operations will hold a joint public hearing on the following legislation. Two of these bills were introduced by Councilmember Henderson.
Whitman-Walker celebrates opening of new Max Robinson Center
Last Monday, Councilmember Henderson joined Mayor Muriel Bowser, as well as other Councilmembers and District officials, in the ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of Whitman-Walker’s new Max Robinson Center at the St. Elizabeths East campus in Southeast D.C. The six-story healthcare and research facility will enable Whitman-Walker to expand its wide range of services to the community, with a focus on Ward 7 and Ward 8 residents. You can watch the ribbon cutting here.
6th Annual National Maternal and Infant Health Summit
Last Tuesday, Councilmember Henderson spoke at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 6th Annual National Maternal and Infant Health Summit. This year’s summit focused on working women and best practices for employers of expectant mothers and those returning to the workforce after expanding their families, resources to support families, and reimagining what is covered by insurance. You can watch Part 1 of the summit here and Part 2 of the summit here.
Capital Area Food Bank Check Presentation Ceremony
In late 2021, Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) launched a food pharmacy pilot program with Children’s National Hospital to improve children’s health by creating easy access to foods that help with the prevention and management of diabetes. Since then, the program has supported 120 patient families by providing 30 lbs. of healthy food each month.
Last Wednesday, the Committee on Health staff attended a check presentation for Capital Area Food Bank from the Amerigroup Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Medicaid managed care provider Amerigroup DC. The grant will allow Capital Area Food Bank to expand the program to serve approximately 155 families each month with 40 – 50 lbs. of food – a more appropriate amount to help families adopt and sustain healthier lifestyles.
In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News
Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Continue: The federal government will continue to distribute free COVID-19 tests directly to homes. This ensures that free COVID-19 tests are available to marginalized and uninsured communities. Order up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per household here.
Free Weekly Veggie Giveaways at Edgewood Rooftop Farm, Lederer Garden, and Powell Communal Farm. Grab some free and fresh organic produce at one of DPR’s communal farms. Edgewood Rooftop Farm provides fresh produce to community members in Ward 5 every Tuesday from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, Lederer Garden provides fresh produce in Ward 7 every Wednesday from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, and Powell Communal Farm provides fresh produce in Ward 7 every Thursday from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. DPR will be providing free fruits and veggies to community members until November 30. To learn more, visit DPR’s webpage.
Martha’s Table/McKenna’s Wagon Mobile Food Service: For neighbors facing food insecurity and housing instability, please join Martha’s Table staff at McKenna’s Wagon, mobile food service that rolls out 7 days a week to serve hot, fresh meals, as well as sandwiches, homemade muffins, fruit, and refreshments. McKenna’s Wagon operates at two locations: New Jersey Avenue and I St. NE from 5:15 pm – 5:40 pm AND 17th St and I Street at 5:50. Times are approximate and subject to traffic conditions. For more information, visit Martha’s Table webpage.
Art All Night Returns: The Department of Small and Local Business Development is back for Art All Night! DC Art All Night will occur from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM the following morning on two nights—September 29 and 30. The festival will take place in all 8 wards with different activations on each night, bringing visual and performing arts, including painting, photography, sculpture, crafts, fashion, music, literary arts, dance, theater, film, and poetry, to indoor and outdoor public and private spaces, including local businesses and restaurants. For more information, visit the event’s webpage.
DC Public Library’s Job Seeker Assistance: On Monday, October 2, from 2-3pm, job seekers will be able to join staff for assistance with building and typing your resumé, conducting online job searches, and completing online job applications at the Southeast Neighborhood Library (403 7th St SE). To learn more, visit the DCPL webpage.
Metro’s Small Business Program: Metro is looking to connect with Spanish-speaking small businesses in the community! Join the Small Business Program Office on Tuesday, October 3, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, and learn how to get certified through Metro’s Small Business Program’s Office for potential contracts.
Legal Counsel for the Elderly Self-Help Office (SHO): On Tuesday, October 3, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, the Self-Help Office will provide free legal counsel to seniors who need assistance with getting answers to legal questions, completing small claims complaints, assisting with small estate probate paperwork, obtaining a DC Real ID, checking for public benefits, and much more at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Room 202-J. To learn more, visit the DCPL webpage. To schedule an appointment, call 202-434-2120.
First Friday ArtWalk Dupont: On Friday, October 6, from 6-8pm, ArtWalk Dupont is hosting its self-guided gallery walking tours. On the first Friday of each month, ArtWalk Dupont features walking tours and live performances at Dupont Circle art galleries, embassies, and cultural centers. Put your walking shoes on and tour 10 to 15 galleries, embassies, and cultural centers in the greater Dupont Circle neighborhood. To learn more, click here.
Adams Morgan Fall Porchfest: On Saturday, October 14, from 2:00 to 6:00, the Adams Morgan Fall Porchfest will showcase some of DC’s best local musical talent featuring nearly every musical genre, including classic rock, funk, go-go, rap, reggae, blue grass, classical, and pop from over 100 bands. To get your wristband, click here.
Payne Elementary School’s Annual Fall Festival: On October 28, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, fall lovers will be able to grab some hot chocolate and kids can enjoy a hayride and face paintings at Payne Elementary School’s Fall Festival (1445 C Street SE). For more details, visit DC Water’s website.
Metro to shut down Red line service at three stations in December for critical repairs and upgrades: On Monday, December 18, Metro will begin a two-week construction project on the Red Line to perform critical safety repairs to the tunnel and track infrastructure, upgrade signal and communications systems, and install new platform edge lights. During construction, Red Line service will be unavailable at Farragut North, Metro Center, and Gallery Place stations with free shuttle buses replacing trains from December 18 through Saturday, December 30. While the Red Line is closed, service will continue to be available on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines on the lower level at Metro Center and Green and Yellow line service on the lower level at Gallery Place. More information can be found on Metro’s website.
DPW Yard Waste Collection is now year-round. Residents must call 311 to make an appointment for yard waste collection. Residents can also visit 311.dc.gov to make an appointment or download and schedule an appointment using the 311 mobile app available at the Google Play and Apple App stores. DPW only collects yard waste in paper bags. DPW will collect up to 20 paper bags of yard waste from residences that receive DPW’s trash and recycling collection services. Residents are still able to leave their paper yard waste bags at the point of trash collection. Residents who wish to can drop off their yard waste at the Fort Totten Transfer Station during normal residential business hours.
Sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates: The 2023 Paving Plan is published on the PaveDC website at the start of the construction season. The website also includes separate tabs for sidewalks scheduled for repair and the Alley Restoration Plan for Fiscal Year 2023. For more information about these projects, please visit DDOT's interactive tool, PaveDC. To sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates, visit the sign up page.
Medicaid Renewal, Don’t Wait to Update: All DC residents with health coverage through Medicaid, Alliance, or the Immigrant Children’s Program must renew their coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to update your address, phone number, and/or email so that the Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) knows where to send your Medicaid renewal letter. If you require assistance, please call the Public Benefits Center at 202-727-5355.
Have a constituent service need related to the Health Committee or any of the other agencies in DC Government? Want Councilmember Henderson to come to your community event or meeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Constituent Services Director Ana Berrios-Vazquez during regular business hours (9:00am - 5:30pm) at 202-724-8105, or ABerriosVazquez@dccouncil.gov.