This legislative session, the state legislature passed HB 2202, which was proposed by AWPHD and provided clarity on which emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were eligible to participate in the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighter’s (LEOFF) retirement program, which is a more robust and expensive alternative to regular retirement programs. With the passage of the bill, only EMTs at hospital districts who are full-time employees and are rendering care at the scene of an emergency or transporting patients in an ambulance will be eligible for LEOFF. The bill resulted in a savings of more than $8 million for hospital districts.
Several of our state’s public hospital districts employ EMTs, and for years there had been disagreement between public hospital districts and the state Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) regarding which EMTs, if any, are required to participate in LEOFF. The original DRS interpretation dictated that any EMT working for any hospital district was required to join LEOFF, retroactive to 2005. This would have created extreme financial hardship for hospital districts, and AWPHD believed this interpretation violated legislative intent.
Last year, the disagreement led to the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of impacted hospital districts, and AWPHD proposed the legislation in 2017 to bring clarity and resolution, and eliminate the need for a lawsuit. (Ben Lindekugel)