The House and Senate have released their respective budgets. Revenue is up for the state overall, but most of the new revenue cannot be spent without a 60-vote majority. Both budgets include significant funding for K-12 education, as well as some funding for behavioral health. The good news is that there are no proposed cuts to hospitals in either budget. WSHA is still reviewing the details of the budgets – see our chart below for more detail. The next step is for the budgets to be adopted in their chambers of origin followed by negotiations to reconcile differences between now and March 8.
The State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council estimated a revenue increase of $647 million for the 2017-2019 biennium, and an increase of $671 million for the 2019-21 biennium. The Senate invests more than $900 million for K-12 public schools, while the House invests about $190 million. For mental health, the Senate and House have an overwhelming emphasis on increased funding to the state hospitals. Both budgets focus spending on meeting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ requirements and also funding for forensic mental health patients where the state continues not to meet court requirements. While WSHA supports increased funding for mental health, we continue to advocate for increases for community-based services.
Your help needed on HB 1715: Nurse staffing
We need your help to defeat HB 1715: uninterrupted meal/rest breaks and prohibiting use of pre-scheduled on-call in hospitals. We are encouraging CEOs to reach out to their senator(s) to let them know hospitals remain opposed to this bill. We recommend calling your senator(s) office today to request a 15 minute phone meeting for next week. See our talking points.
Friday, February 23 is the cutoff for bills to be voted out of committees in the opposite house. Bills will then move to the floor for action. See the cutoff calendar.
WSHA Legislative Testimony: February 19-23
WSHA is testifying on the following bills this week:
- HB 2101: Sexual assault nurses. Directs a study to increase availability of and access to sexual assault nurse examiners statewide. WSHA testified in support.
- HB 2408: Individual market stability. Seeks to ensure commercial individual market plans are sold statewide. WSHA testified in support.
- HB 2541: Informed consent improvements. Makes it possible for certain additional family members and close friends who meet certain standards to make medical decisions for a patient who is incapacitated. WSHA testified in strong favor.
- HB 2114: Balance billing. Protects consumers from balance billing charges, but creates significant administrative burden, cost and liability for hospitals. WSHA opposed the bill last year. Its current iteration is improved but still has significant issues. WSHA testified in opposition.
- HB 2107: Community mental health placement. Concerns the addition of services for long-term placement of mental health patients in community settings that voluntarily contract to provide the services. WSHA will testify to amend difficult reporting requirements.
Wednesday, February 21
- SB 6015: Wrongful death. Inappropriately expands the circumstances and classes of individuals able to sue in cases of wrongful death. WSHA will testify in opposition.
Friday, February 23
House Health Care & Wellness
- SB 6273: Charity care. Clarifies charity care law and increases standardization regarding notice to patients and staff training on charity care policies and interpret services. WSHA will testify in support.
Thank you for testifying!
We are very thankful for everyone who comes to Olympia to testify! Your testimony is essential for helping legislators and the public to understand the real impact of proposed legislation. We were pleased to recently have testimony from:
- Norma Cole, UW Harborview Medical Center, Associate Director Social Work: Testifying in favor of HB 2541
- Jennifer Burkhardt, Olympic Medical Center, Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel: Testifying in favor of HB 2541