Financial transparency, public option, companion bill for audio-only telemedicine

February 1, 2021

WSHA will be addressing the following major legislation this week.

HB 1272: Financial transparency

WSHA strongly opposes HB 1272, which institutes burdensome and excessive reporting requirements on hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities. The bill would require a huge expansion in the required level of reporting detail, far beyond what is required for other health care entities. It is based on HB 2036 from the 2020 legislative session, which WSHA ultimately became neutral on, but WSHA opposes this new iteration of the bill.

The bill would require hospitals to report money received from local, state or federal governments related to a national- or state- declared emergency, such as COVID. WSHA has already collected this information and is planning to share it with legislators. It requires hospital discharge information to identify patients by race/ethnicity, gender identity, preferred language, any disability, ZIP code of primary residence, occupation, education and annual income. It also would require hospitals to report their “critical staffing” by job class and report mortality rates and details about their community health improvement service activities.

The increased reporting would require costly upgrades to reporting infrastructure, and in many aspects it is misguided, not providing the intended information. It would also increase the administrative burden of providing community benefit. Lastly, we believe, patients would be offended by providers asking personal questions about their education, occupation and income, as it implies the quality of care they would receive would be dependent on their responses.

The House Committee on Health Care & Wellness will hold a public hearing on HB 1272 Thursday, Feb. 4. (Zosia Stanley)

SB 5377: Public option

WSHA strongly opposes SB 5377, which would force hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to contract with Cascade Care in order to contract with the Public Employees’ Benefits Board (PEBB), the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) or Medicaid. It would set the reimbursement rate for Cascade Care at 135 percent of what Medicare would have reimbursed the hospital, and it has adjustments – up to 5 percentage points – for hospitals that care for more than the statewide average of Medicaid patients. Rules and formulas for setting hospital-specific rates would be established by December 2022 and be effective January 1, 2023.

Given the challenging payor mix for many hospitals, this bill would only exacerbate their financial challenges by forcing them to contract at a rate lower than they would voluntarily agree to merely to preserve their existing business. Hospitals that opt out would be subject to penalties from the Health Care Authority (HCA), including fines, prohibitions from contracting with HCA, and prohibitions from contracting with commercial carriers that contract with PEBB or SEBB.

The Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care will hold a public hearing on SB 5377 Wednesday, Feb. 3. (Shirley Prasad and Andrew Busz)

SB 5325: Concerning audio-only telemedicine

WSHA strongly supports SB 5325, which is the companion bill to HB 1196, which expands the state’s definition of telemedicine to include audio-only services. The Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care will hold a public hearing on SB 5325 on Friday, Feb. 5. Read more in the Jan. 25 Inside Olympia or from WSHA’s issue brief. (David Streeter)

WSHA Weighing In: Feb. 1-5

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills this week:

Monday, Feb. 1

  • House Appropriations
    • HB 1316: Concerning the hospital safety net assessment. (Andrew Busz)
  • House Children, Youth & Families
  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • HB 1276: Providing for certain emergency medical services personnel to work in diversion centers. (Alicia Eyler)
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • SB 5268: Transforming services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by increasing the capabilities of community residential settings and redesigning the long-term nature of intermediate care facilities. (Zosia Stanley)
  • Senate Ways & Means

Tuesday, Feb. 2

  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary
    • HB 1314: Concerning veteran diversion from involuntary commitment. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
  • House Commerce & Gaming
    • HB 1345: Concerning the regulation of products sold to adults age 21 and over. (Andrew Busz)
  • House Community & Economic Development
    • HB 1340: Concerning creation of the statewide pandemic preparation and response task force. (Alicia Eyler)
  • House Education
    • 1373: Promoting student access to information about behavioral health resources. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
  • House Labor & Workplace Standards
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • HB 1095: Concerning the taxation of governmental financial assistance programs addressing the impacts of conditions giving rise to a gubernatorial or presidential emergency proclamation by creating state business and occupation tax and state public utility tax exemptions, a sales and use tax exemption for the receipt of such financial assistance, and clarifying the sales and use tax obligations for goods and services purchased by recipients of such financial assistance. (Chelene Whiteaker)
    • 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. (Chelene Whiteaker)
    • HB 1368: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding. (Chelene Whiteaker)

Wednesday, Feb. 3

  • House State Government & Tribal Relations
    • HB 1361: Concerning the timely mailing of ballots by county auditors. (Matt Ellsworth)
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • SB 5377: Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market. (See article above.) (Shirley Prasad)
  • Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs

Thursday, Feb. 4

  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • HB 1272: Concerning health system transparency. (See article above.) (Zosia Stanley)
    • HB 1348: Providing medical assistance to incarcerated persons. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

Friday, Feb. 5

  • Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • SB 5325: Concerning audio-only telemedicine. (See article above.) (David Streeter)
    • SB 5292: Concerning the use of parks and recreation spaces, trails, and facilities in the design of parks Rx pilot program collaboratively designed with the health care and insurance industry sectors. (Andrew Busz)

Thank you for testifying!

Thank you to everyone who has testified in support of WSHA’s legislative efforts:

  • Julie Petersen, CEO, Kittitas Valley Healthcare
  • Dr. Jeff Tomlin, CEO, EvergreenHealth
  • June Altaras, SVP Chief Quality, Safety and Nursing Officer, MultiCare Health System
  • Geoff Glass, Senior Energy and Sustainability Manager, Providence
  • Jonathan Lewis, Director of Support Services, Klickitat Valley Health
  • Dr. John Scott, Medical Director for Digital Health, University of Washington


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