Bills that have passed both chambers; Nurse Licensure Compact to get work session

April 14, 2021

Sunday, April 11, marked the final cutoff before the end of the 2021 legislative session, when all bills were required to pass through the opposite chamber – unless they are considered necessary to implement the budget. Both chambers will now work together to finalize the details of the mutually passed bills before sending them to the governor for his signature. This must be done before the last day of session, which is set for Sunday, April 25. WSHA is also waiting for the release of the final 2021-2023 budget, which we expect to be released in the final days of session.

Also, although legislation did not advance this session that would have allowed our state to join the Nurse Licensure Compact, we are pleased to report that the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care will host a work session on Wednesday, April 14 from 9-11 am to hear from a wide array of supporters about the need for our state to join the Compact. This work session represents a great opportunity to present information to lawmakers outside of the usual hustle of committee hearing and allow us to lay the groundwork for our advocacy next year. It will also be broadcast on TVW. Read more about the Nurse Licensure Compact on our issue brief.

Below are details of WSHA’s highest priority bills that have passed both chambers. We are pleased three out of our four WSHA-initiated policy bills will be on their way to the governor’s desk.

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)

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. Read more from the Jan. 25 Inside Olympia. (David Streeter)

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 in caring for COVID patients during this pandemic. 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)

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)

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

WSHA worked to amend and monitor ESSB 5190. The bill creates a presumption of occupational disease for health care workers in workers’ compensation and provides a pathway for certain health care workers to receive benefits under unemployment insurance 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)

2SSB 5195: Concerning prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication

WSHA is pleased with the direction of 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)

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. (Shirley Prasad)

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 creates four regional shared service centers to coordinate between local health jurisdictions. A foundational public health steering committee would convene to define the purpose of the regional shared service centers and make various recommendations, including funding recommendations to promote new service delivery models. Read more from the March 22 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

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. Read more from the March 30 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

ESSB 5115: Establishing health emergency labor standards

WSHA negotiated to improve ESSB 5115, which is the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA). This legislation has been 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 L&I reporting and employee notice sections that are still applicable to hospitals, and WSHA worked hard to improve these sections for our members. The bill has passed both chambers. Read more from the Jan. 19 Inside Olympia. (Alicia Eyler)

Bills that have passed both chambers

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. WSHA strongly supports this bill.
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.
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.

WSHA Weighing In: April 10-16

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills next week:

Saturday, April 10

  • Senate Ways & Means
    • HB 1316: Concerning the hospital safety net assessment. (Andrew Busz). (This bill is necessary to implement the budget and contains a two-year extension of the program. WSHA strongly supports it.)


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