State Legislative Agenda

Hospitals are anchor institutions in Washington state communities, providing both needed services and stable jobs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s the mission of the Washington State Hospital Association to ensure that all our state’s communities have access to high-quality health care.

1. Ensure that hospitals can be stable institutions in their communities, long into the future.

  • Preserve access to care in communities through partnerships and affiliations. Affiliations and contractual relationships among physician offices, hospitals and health systems can maintain access to care, increase efficiency and improve care coordination. Often these arrangements subsidize the cost of physician practices serving Medicaid patients and allow more standardization of care. New barriers to affiliations do not preserve competition, they may force independent providers to close.
  • State budget: Maintain Medicaid funding to hospital-based clinics. Hospital-based clinics provide a substantial portion of primary and specialty care to the Medicaid population. These hospital-based clinics are less expensive than other safety net clinics serving Medicaid clients, provide needed specialty care, and are considerably less expensive than emergency rooms.

2. Within a safety-focused regulatory environment, maintain the flexibility to respond to changing needs and opportunities to improve care.

  • Ensure flexibility for nurse meal and rest breaks and pre-scheduled on-call. Hospitals support maintaining the current standards for meal and rest breaks and pre-scheduled on-call arrangements for nurses and technologists. WSHA also opposes mandating nurse to patient ratios. In the 2017 session, hospitals supported expanding nurse staffing committees to develop strategies and process to ensure breaks are provided and annual staffing plans are followed.
  • Ensure reasonable standards for pharmacies. WSHA supports efforts to modernize laws around electronic prescriptions and out-of-state pharmacies that send drugs to Washington.

3. Make it easier to meet patient needs in lower-cost and non-hospital settings.

4. Advocate for patients and hospital employees.

  • Clarify charity care law. WSHA is interested in working with legislators and advocacy groups to improve and modernize the charity care law so that patients know about and can access financial assistance.
  • Improve informed consent laws for patients. Washington State’s law is restrictive on who can make medical decisions for an incapacitated patient. The law should be expanded to allow other adult relatives or close friends of patients to assist in important decisions.
  • Improve the safety of hospital nurses, doctors and patients through appropriate weapons policy for patients and visitors. WSHA will support efforts to reduce violence in hospitals.
  • Allow easier completion of medical advance directives. Allow notaries to witness medical advance directives, as currently allowed in the durable power of attorney law. Also, clarify the requirements for witnesses of advance directives to verify the identity of the person executing the directive.
  • Maintain patient privacy around body-worn cameras. WSHA supports maintaining the current law, which limits disclosure of patient information recorded in a medical facility by law enforcement body-worn cameras. This important privacy protection is set to expire in 2019.

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Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

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206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

info@wsha.org

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