(1) The legislature finds that Washington state and the nation as a whole have a high rate of infant illness and death compared with other industrialized nations. This is especially true for minority and low-income populations. Premature and low weight births have been directly linked to infant illness and death. The availability of adequate maternity care throughout the course of pregnancy has been identified as a major factor in reducing infant illness and death. Further, the investment in preventive health care programs, such as maternity care, contributes to the growth of a healthy and productive society and is a sound approach to health care cost containment. The legislature further finds that access to maternity care for low-income women in the state of Washington has declined significantly in recent years and has reached a crisis level.
(2) It is the purpose of this subchapter to provide, consistent with appropriated funds, maternity care necessary to ensure healthy birth outcomes for low-income families. To this end, a maternity care access system is established based on the following principles:
(a) The family is the fundamental unit in our society and should be supported through public policy.
(b) Access to maternity care for eligible persons to ensure healthy birth outcomes should be made readily available in an expeditious manner through a single service entry point.
(c) Unnecessary barriers to maternity care for eligible persons should be removed.
(d) Access to preventive and other health care services should be available for low-income children.
(e) Each woman should be encouraged to and assisted in making her own informed decisions about her maternity care.
(f) Unnecessary barriers to the provision of maternity care by qualified health professionals should be removed.
(g) The system should be sensitive to cultural differences among eligible persons.
(h) To the extent possible, decisions about the scope, content, and delivery of services should be made at the local level involving a broad representation of community interests.
(i) The maternity care access system should be evaluated at appropriate intervals to determine effectiveness and need for modification.
(j) Maternity care services should be delivered in a cost-effective manner.