To: Chief Financial Officers, Public Policy Advisory Group
From: Zosia Stanley, JD, MHA, Policy Director
Staff Contact: Zosia Stanley, ZosiaS@wsha.org or (206) 216-2511
Subject: $15 per bed increase in hospital licensing fees to cover fire safety inspections
The purpose of this bulletin is to provide information about a proposed increase in licensing fees for hospitals. The proposed increase is $15 per bed and would become effective in the late fall of 2017. This increase will cover the cost of fire code inspections performed by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The current funding source for these inspections is a contractor licensing fee account and it is no longer viable. WSHA worked with the Department of Health, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and other stakeholders during the 2017 legislative session to ensure that the state will continue to perform important, legally required hospital safety inspections and that any fee increase is narrowly tailored to cover the actual costs of fire code inspections.
The licensure fee increase applies to acute care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and alcohol and chemical dependency hospitals. For acute care hospitals, the fee will increase from $123 to $138 per bed. Fees for private psychiatric and alcohol and chemical dependency hospitals will increase from $70 per bed to $85 per bed.
A fee narrative from the Department of Health is available here and provides additional detail on fire safety inspections and how the fee increase was determined.
Per RCW 70.41.080, the Department of Health coordinates with the State Fire Marshal to conduct fire safety inspections at hospitals. These inspections are necessary for a hospital to be licensed by the state. Since 2008, these inspections have been funded from the Fire Protection Contractor License Account. The account is depleted and the costs of inspections need to be covered from a different source. RCW 43.70.110 and 43.70.250 authorize the Department of Health to set licensing fees at a level sufficient to defray the costs of administering the licensing program, including inspections.
A bill was proposed in 2016 to eliminate the current account funding, but with no proposed replacement option suggested. WSHA worked during the interim and the 2017 legislative session to make sure that any fee increase for hospital licensure was limited to covering the actual costs of fire safety inspections.
The Department of Health has issued a CR-102 notice of proposed rule, available here. The Department is soliciting comments on the proposal, will hold a public hearing on July 27, and then issue a final rule. WSHA will comment that we understand the need for the increase and again express our desire to make sure the collected funds are used only for inspections. Please let us know if you have any additional comments or if you choose to comment directly.
Background and References
Fire protection inspection – RCW 70.41.080
Acute care hospital licensing fee regulations – WAC 246-320-199
Psychiatric hospital licensing fee regulations – WAC 246-322-990
Alcohol and chemical dependency hospital licensing fee regulations – WAC 246-324-990