The 2019 legislative session ended on April 28. Despite strong revenue indications prior to session, K-12 education funding changes and other prior budget commitments resulted in a challenging budget situation for legislators. Even with these challenges, we can report varying success in securing funding for health care.
- Avoided payment cuts to hospitals and stopped a Business and Occupation (B&O) tax increase on hospitals (though we were very disappointed that independent physicians and freestanding psychiatric hospitals were not exempted).
- Obtained substantial operating and capital funding to increase capacity for patients on 90- and 180-day civil commitment orders, enhanced rates for community providers caring for patients with developmental disabilities and funding for post-acute placements. Unfortunately, the legislature did not fund Medicaid psychiatric partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient services.
- Extended the Hospital Safety Net Assessment program in a form WSHA supports.
- The budget includes aggressive savings assumptions for medicaid program integrity activities.
For more budget details, see our previous Inside Olympia.
Policy results: Despite a very challenging legislative environment, we are happy to report some significant successes and mitigation of the most harmful regulations under consideration. WSHA was involved in numerous bills during session, including:
- HB 1065, Provides balance billing restrictions and a dispute resolution process for certain out of network claims. WSHA was actively involved in negotiating provisions workable for hospitals.
- SB 5526, Establishes a Public Option for Washington State. The final bill includes a cap on provider payment rate, which WSHA opposed. WSHA is hosting a webinar regarding HB 1065- Out of Network Services and SB 5526 -Public Option on Wednesday, June 19 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. You can register here.
- HB 1531, Regulates medical debt. WSHA was actively involved in negotiations to preserve the ability of hospitals to collect prejudgment interest.
- HB 1155, Regulates hospital nurse and staff rest breaks and restricts use of prescheduled call. WSHA vigorously opposed the bill but was able to protect flexibility for certain situations and services. (Andrew Busz, firstname.lastname@example.org)