2018 Legislative Session Underway, Many Issues Affecting Hospitals

January 17, 2018

The 2018 legislative session has been underway for about a week and a half, and WSHA is already deeply involved in a number of key issues affecting hospitals. Here are a few that may be of most interest to our Fiscal Watch readers:

Opioid crisis:  WSHA is weighing in on several varied bills to combat the opioid crisis. WSHA supports many provisions of Senate Bill 6150, the Governor’s opioid legislation that expands access to opioid addiction treatment. We do have concerns about one provision that mandates hospital electronic medical records connect with the state Prescription Monitoring Program, as not all electronic health records vendors currently offer such technology.

Market stabilization and access to care: This session there are several proposals to stabilize the insurance market and protect access to health care, including House Bill 2408, which would require an insurer that offers coverage through the School Employee Benefits Board to also offer a qualified health plan through the state’s exchange market.  There are also bill proposals to protect coverage for children in the event of potential federal reductions and to create a reinsurance program to enhance the sustainability and affordability of coverage in the individual and small group market. WSHA strongly supports access to health coverage, but has concerns if hospitals are the funding source.

Medical debt: HB 2731 proposes to treat medical debt drastically differently than all other types of debt. It would prohibit pre-judgment interest, limit post-judgment interest, and place other limits on the ability to collect medical debt owed for services. WSHA has concerns about the bill’s broad sweeping nature.

Partnerships and affiliations: House Bill 1811, first introduced last year, would institute an onerous new reporting requirement and Attorney General review for almost any kind of “material change” to relationships among separate providers— even simple arrangements, such as contracted services. State and federal laws already ensure that partnerships don’t reduce competition or violate antitrust laws. These partnerships are needed to give providers the resources they need to keep in business and improve patient coordination. WSHA strongly opposes this bill.

One of the best ways to keep up to speed regarding the status of these issues is to subscribe to our Inside Olympia newsletter for the latest health care political and policy news from both Olympia and Washington D.C. To subscribe to Inside Olympia or our other free newsletters, visit here. To see WSHA’s Policy Agenda, visit here.  (Andrew Busz, andrewb@wsha.org)


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