Inside Olympia: 2021 Legislative Session Concludes

April 29, 2021

The 2021 state legislative session concluded Sunday, April 25, one day after the state Legislature released its final budget for the 2021-23 biennium (and you can see our full budget analysis here).

This Inside Olympia recaps the major bills that WSHA worked on this session. A big thank you to our members for their support this year in testifying in front of lawmakers, participating in WSHA Advocacy Days and analyzing the impact of bills on hospital operations. WSHA’s work now turns to empowering members to build legislative relationships, advocating during rulemaking and new law implementation, and planning for the next legislative session.

Register now for the Legislative Summary webcast May 12

Please save the date to join us for the Legislative Summary Webcast from 12-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 12. This important webinar will provide you with important information from this legislative session, including action you will need to take to comply with newly adopted state law. Register now!

The following bills have passed the Legislature and are on their way to becoming state law

SHB 1095: B&O tax exemption for COVID-19 emergency grants

WSHA strongly supported SHB 1095, which exempts emergency-related state or federal grants from business and occupation (B&O) tax as long as the grants are spent on emergency expenditures consistent with the grant’s terms. WSHA provided input to the Department of Revenue (DOR) to ensure the exemption also applies to federal and state grants provided through authorized third-party organizations. SHB 1095 passed both chambers of the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor. Read more from the Feb. 23 Inside Olympia. (Andrew Busz)

SSB 5271: Providing liability protections for health care providers and facilities that recognizes the evolving standards of care during COVID-19

WSHA strongly supported SSB 5271, which provides legal protections for health care providers and facilities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. WSHA worked hard to negotiate this bill in advance of the legislative session given hospitals’ central role in caring for COVID patients during the pandemic. The bill has been delivered to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more about SSB 5271 from the Feb. 8 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

ESSB 5178: Establishing timely consideration of waivers of select state health care laws to enable timely response by the health care system during a governor-declared statewide state of emergency

WSHA strongly supported ESSB 5178, which provides a streamlined process for the governor to consider crucial waivers of state laws in the event of a future statewide emergency, allowing the health care community to respond faster. WSHA identified a group of core state laws that are critical to waive for hospitals to surge in the event of a future state-wide declared emergency. Our input played a key role in crafting this legislation. Read more from WSHA’s issue brief. (Zosia Stanley)

ESHB 1196: Concerning audio-only telemedicine

WSHA strongly supported ESHB 1196, which adds audio-only visits to the definition of telemedicine for payment purposes. ESHB 1196 builds on Washington State’s payment parity law by requiring reimbursement for audio-only services at the same amount of compensation that would have been paid if the service were provided in person. The bill has been delivered to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more about SSB 5271 from the Feb. 8 Inside Olympia. (David Streeter)

SSB 5236: Extending certificate of need exemptions

WSHA strongly supports SSB 5236, which extends the current exemption of Certificate of Need laws for psychiatric hospitals for an additional 2 years. It will also allows for freestanding psychiatric hospitals a one-time addition of up to 30 long-term psychiatric beds, in addition to a one-time addition of up to 30 beds for all other types of psychiatric beds. The bill unanimously passed both chambers of the Legislature and it has been delivered to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more from the Jan. 25 Inside Olympia. (Ashlen Strong )

E2SHB 1477: Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services

WSHA is pleased to see E2SHB 1477 pass both chambers and head to the governor’s desk for signature. The bill will redesign Washington’s crisis behavioral health system. Once implemented in future years, people experiencing a mental health or substance-use-related crisis and their loved ones will call “988” instead of “911” to reach a centralized crisis call center that can connect them to crisis services. Down the road, these services will include hospital beds and emergency departments to help find appropriate services for patients in crisis. WSHA was heavily engaged on the policy aspects of the bill and saw all of its amendments incorporated into the bill, including a last-minute floor amendment sponsored by the bill’s prime Senate sponsor. The bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

2SSB 5195: Concerning prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication

WSHA is pleased with 2SSB 5195, which we largely support. The bill directs hospital emergency departments and behavioral health agencies to provide the anti-overdose medication naloxone to people at risk of an opioid overdose. The version of the bill that passed the House addresses many of WSHA’s outstanding concerns, including creating a state-run bulk purchasing and distribution program to address potential reimbursement gaps for the medication. We remain concerned there is no firm date for standing up the purchasing/distribution program. 2SSB 5195 has passed both chambers. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

2SHB 1148: Expanded regulation of acute care hospitals

WSHA worked to amend 2SHB 1148, which expands the regulatory and disciplinary authority of the Department of Health (DOH) over acute care hospitals. Last year, WSHA addressed this issue for freestanding psychiatric hospitals. This bill expanded this regulatory structure to acute care hospitals. WSHA worked with the DOH to make refinements to the bill as it applies to acute care hospitals. The bill has been delivered to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more from the Jan. 19 Inside Olympia. (Ashlen Strong )

E2SHB 1272: Concerning health system transparency

E2SHB 1272 calls for increased reporting by hospitals on financial data, patient data and community benefit. WSHA supports work to address health care disparities and inequities in our state and nationally. As a result of WSHA’s strong advocacy, the bill contains several changes to narrow burdensome data reporting obligations and create realistic timelines for compliance. We are pleased that the bill no longer requires hospitals to collect and report data on patient income, occupation and education data or a requirement to report “critical staffing” information monthly. The bill has been delivered to the governors’ desk for his signature. Read more from the March 30 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

E2SHB 1152: Supporting measures to create comprehensive public health districts

E2SHB 1152 is governor-requested and was introduced by Rep. Riccelli (D-Spokane) with the intent to reform our state’s public health system. E2SHB 1152 was changed significantly over the course of the session, but ultimately establishes a public health advisory board, led by DOH and including a wide array of stakeholders, including WSHA. Additionally, this legislation modifies the composition of local boards of health. The bill has been delivered to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more from the March 22 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

ESSB 5190: Providing health care workers with presumptive benefits during a public health emergency

WSHA had concerns and worked to amend ESSB 5190. The bill creates a presumption of occupational disease in workers’ compensation for certain health care workers. The legislation also provides benefits under unemployment insurance to certain health care workers when they leave work to quarantine due to exposure or contracting the disease that is the subject of a declared public health emergency. WSHA negotiated to revise and improve various provisions in the bill. Read more in the Jan. 25 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

E2SSB 5377: Public option

WSHA worked to get a few last-minute amendments to E2SSB 5377 before it reached the House floor. If the public option does not have a health plan in every county of the state, the bill will require all hospitals that accept Medicaid, public employees benefit board (PEBB) and school employees benefit board (SEBB) patients to participate in at least one public option plan beginning in 2023. WSHA also worked to have the public option’s impact on hospital finances studied when enrollment hits 10,000 covered lives statewide. Currently enrollment is about 1,900 lives statewide. (Ashlen Strong )

ESSB 5115: Establishing health emergency labor standards

WSHA negotiated to improve ESSB 5115, which is the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA). This legislation was significantly amended throughout the process and is primarily focused on “frontline employees” during a public health emergency. While the definition of “frontline employees” originally included health care workers, this group of employees was removed from the workers’ compensation presumption section (see 5190 above). HELSA’s workers’ compensation sections may still be applicable to certain hospital workers such as maintenance, janitorial and food service workers. Additionally, the legislation includes reporting to Department of Labor & Industries and employee notice sections that are still applicable to hospitals, though WSHA worked hard to improve these sections for our members. The bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature.  Read more from the Jan. 19 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

SSB 5140: Miscarriage management

WSHA opposed SSB 5140, which establishes a private cause of action pertaining to miscarriage management and care for ectopic pregnancies. Read more from the Jan. 19 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

Bills that passed this session

Bills that WSHA supported

2SHB 1061 Relating to youth eligible for developmental disability services who are expected to exit the child welfare system.
SHB 1095 Concerning the taxation of governmental financial assistance programs addressing the impacts of conditions giving rise to a gubernatorial or presidential emergency proclamation (exempting federal, state, and local COVID grants from B&O tax). WSHA provided significant input on this bill prior to session.
HB 1096 Concerning nonmedicare plans offered through the Washington State health insurance pool.
ESHB 1109 Concerning victims of sexual assault.
ESHB 1196 Concerning audio-only telemedicine. WSHA strongly support this version of the bill.
2SHB 1325 Implementing policies related to children and youth behavioral health.
HB 1367 Revising 2019-2021 fiscal biennium appropriations of state and federal funding for previously implemented Medicaid rates and other Medicaid expenditures in the developmental disabilities and long-term care programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ESHB 1368 Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding.
HB 1378 Concerning the supervision of medical assistants.
SHB 1445 Concerning the definition of compounding for purposes of the practice of pharmacy.
E2SHB 1477 Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services. While this bill has to pass both chambers, it is necessary to implement the budget.
E2SHB 1504 Modifying the workforce education investment act.
E2SSB 5071 Creating transition teams to assist specified persons under civil commitment.
SSB 5073 Concerning involuntary treatment.
ESSB 5178 Establishing automatic waivers of select state health care laws to enable timely response by the health care system during a governor-declared statewide state of emergency.
SSB 5185 Concerning capacity to provide informed consent for health care decisions.
SSB 5236 Extending certificate of need exemptions for psychiatric beds. This bill has passed both chambers and is on its way to the governor.
SSB 5271 Amending the necessary elements of proof of injury during the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2SSB 5313 Concerning health insurance discrimination.
SSB 5325 Concerning telemedicine. This version has been modified to apply to community behavioral health providers.
ESSB 5370 Updating mental health advance directive laws.
SSB 5423 Concerning telemedicine consultations.

Bills that WSHA opposed or with which we have concerns

SSB 5140 Protecting pregnancy and miscarriage-related patient care.
ESSB 5190 Providing health care workers with presumptive benefits during a public health emergency. WSHA worked to amend this bill, but remains concerned overall about its precedent.
E2SSB 5377 Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market (public option).

Bills WSHA got amended to neutral or did not take a position on

E2SHB 1073 Expanding coverage of the paid family and medical leave program.
E2SHB 1086 Creating the state office of behavioral health consumer advocacy. WSHA worked to ensure this bill did not create a duplicate regulatory process for hospitals providing behavioral health care.
E2SHB 1097 Increasing worker protections.
2SHB 1148 Protecting patients in acute care hospitals.
E2SHB 1152 Supporting measures to create comprehensive public health districts.
2SHB 1161 Modifying the requirements for drug take-back programs.
E2SHB 1272 Relating to health system transparency.
SHB 1314 Concerning veteran diversion from involuntary commitment. WSHA worked to ensure efforts to connect people to VA services did not interfere with the involuntary treatment process.
SHB 1383 Concerning respiratory care practitioners.
E2SSB 5022 Concerning the management of certain materials to support recycling and waste and litter reduction. WSHA worked to exempt hospitals and health care facilities from the provision that prohibits the distribution of plastic utensils with meals.
SSB 5025 Concerning the consumer protection improvement act.
SSB 5034 Concerning nonprofit corporations.
E2SSB 5052 Concerning the creation of health equity zones.
ESSB 5097 Expanding of the paid family and medical leave program.
ESSB 5115 Establishing health emergency labor standards act.
2SSB 5195 Relating to prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication.
SSB 5254 Concerning the use of protective devices and equipment during a public health emergency. WSHA worked to ensure this bill reflected hospital concerns for infection control.

Bills that died

2HB 1076 Qui Tam. WSHA opposed this bill allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections.
SHB 1084 Expansion of the clean buildings program. WSHA successfully advocated for a hospital exemption to the fossil fuel phase out requirement.
HB 1111 WSHA strongly opposed this bill concerning investment income tax deductions.
SHB 1124 Nurse delegation of blood glucose testing and monitoring. WSHA supported this legislation.
E2SHB 1160 WSHA opposed this bill concerning health provider contracts.
HB 1488 Concerning plastic packaging. WSHA successfully amended the bill to exclude hospitals and health care facilities.
2SSB 5062 Consumer data privacy – Washington privacy act. WSHA supported this legislation.
SB 5247 WSHA strongly supported this bill to allow our state to participate in the national nurse licensure compact.


Contact Us

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

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

Staff List