First cutoff of session: Good news and some disappointments

February 17, 2021

Monday, Feb. 15 marked the first cutoff of session, when a policy bill must have passed through its committee of origin (except for fiscal committees). WSHA has been busy at work advocating for patients and hospitals. While we still have several weeks left in this session, we are pleased to report that many important bills are still alive and many harmful bills are no longer moving forward.

One major highlight is the liability protections bill for providers and facilities (SSB 5271) is moving nicely through the process. WSHA has also worked on many behavioral health bills to ensure they will support patients and ensure hospitals can continue to deliver important services.

SB 5247: Concerning the multistate nurse licensure compact

WSHA strongly supported SB 5247, which would have enabled Washington to join the Nurse Licensure Compact. Unfortunately, the bill did not advance from its committee of origin and is effectively dead for this session. WSHA wants to express its gratitude to everyone who advocated for the issue, especially during our recent Hospital Advocacy Week! We even got the attention of the Seattle Times!

The current virtual environment was challenging for this type of issue, as WSHA sat down to negotiate with the nursing unions. While this bill is not moving forward, we know nursing challenges persist. For the remaining weeks of session, we will work to ensure the Legislature invests in more temporary staff to enable the Nursing Commission to improve nurse licensing processing time. We will also be continuing our advocacy work at a work session before the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care. During the interim before next year’s session, we will work with members to establish our strategy going forward. (Shirley Prasad)

SB 5335: Concerning the acquisition of health care facilities

A bill that WSHA opposed, SB 5335, is not moving forward. It would have establish a new process by which hospitals would have to submit an excessive amount of information – including information on transactions, services and staffing – to the Department of Health (DOH) ahead of any acquisition or merger. DOH would then have had the power to approve, deny or place conditions on the transaction. The process would have been financially draining on hospitals, paid for by fees from hospitals that apply for transactions. All information would have become public record, and it would have added at least six months to the timeframe of any transaction.

Further, DOH would have needed to hire an independent contractor to produce a detailed analysis of the transaction and conduct public meetings. DOH would then have been required to monitor the terms and conditions of the deal for at least 10 years and would have required periodic reports from the entity. This would have included the power to subpoena information, collect audits and investigate violations of the conditions, all at the expense of the health care entity. (Zosia Stanley)

SHB 1160: Concerning health provider contracts

WSHA opposes House Bill 1160, which places restrictions on how hospitals contract with insurance carriers. WSHA testified before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee that the bill could cause unintended issues with access and quality of care if carriers choose to contract with hospitals in a fragmented manner. Unfortunately, the bill passed out of committee without addressing our main concerns. WSHA testified in opposition to the bill in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 16. (Andrew Busz)

Bills still alive after cutoff

Bills WSHA supports

SHB 1074 Concerning overdose and suicide fatality reviews.
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 1120 Concerning state of emergency operations impacting long-term services and supports.
SHB 1141 Increasing access to the death with dignity act.
SHB 1196 Concerning audio-only telemedicine. WSHA strongly support this version of the bill.
HB 1316 Concerning the hospital safety net assessment.
HB 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.
SHB 1354 Concerning youth suicide review teams
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.
SHB 1504 Modifying the workforce education investment act.
SSB 5062 Concerning the management, oversight, and use of data.
SSB 5071 Creating transition teams to assist specified persons under civil commitment.
SSB 5073 Concerning involuntary treatment.
SSB 5074 Relating to establishing safe station pilot programs for persons in need of substance use disorder treatment.
SSB 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 5179 Concerning blood donation.
SSB 5185 Concerning capacity to provide informed consent for health care decisions.
SSB 5236 Extending certificate of need exemptions for psychiatric beds.
SSB 5294 Concerning the creation of statewide epidemic preparedness and response guidelines for long-term care facilities.
SSB 5271 Amending the necessary elements of proof of injury during the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SSB 5313 Concerning health insurance discrimination.
SSB 5325 Concerning telemedicine. This version has been modified to apply to community behavioral health providers.
SSB 5370 Updating mental health advance directive laws.
SSB 5420 Concerning data reporting requirements for hospitals.
SSB 5423 Concerning telemedicine consultations.

Bills WSHA opposes or with which it has concerns

SHB 1073 Expanding coverage of the paid family and medical leave program.
SHB 1076 Allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections.
SHB 1084 Reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by achieving greater decarbonization of residential and commercial buildings. WSHA worked to amend this bill to recognize the unique positions of hospitals needing back up power systems. The bill applies to commercial buildings between 10,000-50,000 square feet.
SHB 1097 Increasing worker protections.
SHB 1124 Concerning nurse delegation of glucose monitoring, glucose testing, and insulin injections.
SHB 1160 Concerning health provider contracts.
SHB 1272 Concerning health system transparency.
HB 1477 Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services.
SSB 5025 Concerning the consumer protection improvement act.
SSB 5064 Concerning qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work.
SSB 5097 Expanding of the paid family and medical leave program.

SSB 5115

Establishing health emergency labor standards.
SSB 5140 Protecting pregnancy and miscarriage-related patient care.
SSB 5155 Concerning prejudgment interest.
SSB 5190 Providing health care workers with presumptive benefits during a public health emergency.
SSB 5195 Relating to prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication.
SSB 5377 Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market (public option)
SSB 5412 Facilitating supportive relationships with family and significant individuals within the behavioral health system.

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

SHB 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 psychiatric care.
SHB 1109 Concerning victims of sexual assault.
SHB 1148 Protecting patients in acute care hospitals.
SHB 1152 Supporting measures to create comprehensive public health districts.
SHB 1161 Modifying the requirements for drug take-back programs.
SHB 1197 Concerning health care decisions made by a designated person.
SHB 1314 Concerning veteran diversion from involuntary commitment
SSB 5025 Concerning the consumer protection improvement act.
SSB 5034 Concerning nonprofit corporations.
SSB 5183 Concerning victims of nonfatal strangulation.
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: Feb. 15-19

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills this week:

Monday, Feb. 15 
  • Senate Ways & Means 
    • SB 5068: Improving maternal health outcomes by extending coverage during the postpartum period. (Shirley Prasad)
Tuesday, Feb. 16 
  • House Appropriations 
    • SHB 1160: SHB 1160: Concerning health provider contracts. (Andrew Busz)
    • SHB 1325: Implementing policies related to children and youth behavioral health. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
Wednesday, Feb. 17 
  • House Appropriations 
    • SHB 1076- Allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections. (David Streeter)
  • Senate Ways & Means 
    • SSB 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)
Thursday, Feb. 18 
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • SSB 5071: Creating transition teams to assist specified persons under civil commitment. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
    • SSB 5195: Concerning prescribing opioid overdose reversal medication. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
Friday, Feb. 19 
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • SSB 5313: Concerning health insurance discrimination. (Shirley Prasad)
    • SSB 5325: Concerning audio-only telemedicine. (David Streeter)
    • SSB 5377: Increasing affordability of standardized plans on the individual market. (Shirley Prasad)
    • SB 5420: Concerning data reporting requirements for hospitals. (Zosia Stanley)

Thank you for testifying!

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

  • Timothy H. Dellit, M.D., President, UW Physicians/CMO, UW Medicine


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