A collection of hearings on high-priority bills

March 18, 2021

With two weeks to go until the next cutoff of session – when bills will need to advance from all committees in the opposite chamber except for fiscal committees – we are pleased to report continued progress. This week, WSHA and hospital members are testifying or have testified on the following bills.

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

WSHA strongly supports 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 caring for COVID patients during this pandemic. SSB 5271 passed the Senate and the House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary held a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday, March 16. Read more about SSB 5271 from the Feb. 8 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

E2SSB 5377: Concerning increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market (public option)

WSHA will be seeking to refine E2SSB 5377, which aims to make numerous changes to the public option health plans, which are offered on the Washington health benefit exchange. One of those changes includes requiring large health systems with four or more hospitals to contract with at least two health carriers in each county within a geographic rating area that is offering a public option health plan. While some concerns were addressed in the Senate, WSHA will continue to be working this bill as it moves through the House. Read more about E2SSB 5377 from the March 3 Inside Olympia. The House Committee on Health Care & Wellness held a public hearing on E2SSB 5377 on Wednesday, March 17. (Shirley Prasad)

HB 1111: Concerning investment income tax deductions

WSHA strongly opposes HB 1111, which amends state law to remove the B&O tax deduction on investment income. There is no designated purpose for the additional revenue aside from language stating it is intended to make a “more robust public health system.” The bill assumes that if an entity has funds to invest then it has no need for B&O tax breaks on the income. This is not true for hospitals, which are reimbursed below the cost of care for patients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid, and they use investment income to help stay afloat. The House Committee on Finance held a public hearing on HB 1111 Tuesday, March 16. (Andrew Busz)

2SSB 5062: Concerning the management, oversight, and use of data

WSHA supports 2SSB 5062, which establishes consumer date privacy protections for currently unregulated personal information. It contains strong exemptions for regulated health information. It also establishes consumer rights and data processor and controller obligations. The legislation also addresses data privacy via contract tracing during a declared public health emergency in a very narrow way.

The exemption language protecting health information used by hospitals and health systems was crafted carefully. We consider the exemption language as-written to be the gold standard for protecting regulated health information and it would be the model for exemptions moving forward in other consumer data privacy legislation. The House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary held a public hearing on 2SSB 5062 on Wednesday, March 17. (Alicia Eyler)

2SSB 5195: Concerning prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication

WSHA is continuing to seek amendments to 2SSB 5195, although we were pleased the bill is continuing to advance. The bill directs hospital emergency departments and certain behavioral health agencies to provide the anti-overdose medication naloxone to people at risk of an opioid overdose. The House Committee on Health Care & Wellness will hold a public hearing on 2SSB 5195 on Thursday, March 18. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

E2SHB 1272 Concerning health system transparency

E2SHB 1272 calls for increased reporting by hospitals on financial data, patient data and community benefit. WSHA has been advocating strongly on the bill and is pleased the requirement to collect patient income, occupation and education data was removed, as was a requirement to report “critical staffing” information monthly. WSHA also continues to work on a request to help rural hospitals comply with the new requirements. The Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care will hold a public hearing on E2SHB 1272 on Friday, March 19. Read more from the Feb. 1 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

E2SHB 1160: Concerning health provider contracts

WSHA opposes E2SHB 1160, which places significant restrictions on how hospitals contract with insurance carriers. WSHA testified before the House Health Care and Wellness and Appropriations committees that the bill could cause unintended issues with access and quality of care if carriers choose to contract with hospitals in a fragmented manner. The bill was somewhat improved via a floor amendment before it was passed by the full House, though we still have significant concerns. The Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care will hold a public hearing on E2SHB 1160 on Friday, March 19. (Andrew Busz)

WSHA Weighing In: March 15-19

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills this week:

Monday, March 15

  • House Finance
    • ESSB 5096: Concerning an excise tax on gains from the sale or exchange of certain capital assets. (Shirley Prasad)
  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • SSB 5169: Concerning provider reimbursement for personal protective equipment during the state of emergency related to COVID-19. (Andrew Busz)
    • SSB 5179: Concerning blood donation. (David Streeter)
    • 2SSB 5313: Concerning health insurance discrimination. (Shirley Prasad)
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • ESHB 1120: Concerning state of emergency operations impacting long-term services and supports. (Zosia Stanley)
  • Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs
    • 2SHB 1076: Allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections. (David Streeter)

Tuesday, March 16

  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary
    • SSB 5271: Amending the necessary elements of proof of injury during the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Alicia Eyler)
    • SSB 5185: Concerning capacity to provide informed consent for health care decisions. (Zosia Stanley)
  • House Finance
    • HB 1111: Concerning investment income tax deductions. (Andrew Busz)
  • House Labor & Workplace Standards
    • ESSB 5097: Expanding coverage of the paid family and medical leave program. (David Streeter)

Wednesday, March 17

  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary
    • 2SSB 5062:  Concerning the management, oversight, and use of data. (Alicia Eyler)
  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • E2SSB 5377: Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market. (Shirley Prasad)

Thursday, March 18

  • House Health Care & Wellness
  • Senate Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Development
    • E2SHB 1504: Modifying the workforce education investment act. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

Friday, March 19

  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • E2SHB 1160: Concerning health provider contracts. (Andrew Busz)
    • E2SHB 1272: Concerning health system transparency. (Zosia Stanley)
  • Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation
    • 2SHB 1061: Concerning youth eligible for developmental disability services who are expected to exit the child welfare system. (Zosia Stanley)


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