Inside Olympia: Compromised reached on SB 5236, bills still alive after fiscal committee cutoff

March 9, 2023

On Friday, Feb. 24, WSHA reached a compromise on SB 5236 that will remove the mandated nurse-to-patient ratios contained in the legislation. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the bill will be amended on the Senate floor with compromise language.

The agreed-upon bill amendment removes mandated staff to patient ratios and strengthens the current nurse staffing committee model. Under the law, staffing plans are developed collaboratively between management and staff at the local level and are filed with the state. The amendment requires hospitals to meet patient assignments in the staffing plan for nurses, LPNs and certified nursing assistants at least 80 percent of the time or face a corrective plan of action and penalties for not following the plan. Rural hospitals are exempted from the new 80 percent structure. The bill contains other changes that WSHA will be summarizing soon for members. WSHA is pleased the agreement removes the 60 hour on-call limit initially contained in the bill.  We are continuing to meet with legislators and union representatives to finalize language for the proposed amendment.

WSHA was also disappointed that two priority bills that we opposed advanced out of Ways and Means: SB 5241, a bill that would significantly restrict health care transactions and mergers, and SB 5393, a bill that would give insurers more negotiating power over hospitals and health care systems.

Friday also marked the deadline for all bills to advance from fiscal committees in their chamber of origin (the Senate Committee on Ways & Means and the House Committee on Appropriations). We are pleased to report that many bills WSHA supports are continuing to move forward. The next hurdle in the legislative session is Wednesday, March 8 the deadline for bills to pass their chamber of origin –House bill must pass out of the House by that date and Senate bills must pass out of the Senate.

High-priority bills still alive after cutoff

Bills WSHA supports

2SHB 1580 Creating a system to support children in crisis.
HB 1812 Continuing the business and occupation tax deduction for federal funds received from a Medicaid transformation or demonstration project or Medicaid quality improvement program or standard.
SSB 5057 Creating a work group to evaluate the costs of the state energy performance standard for covered commercial buildings. As amended this bill contains a one-year delay to the “clean buildings” law.
SSB 5103 Concerning payment to acute care hospitals for difficult to discharge Medicaid patients.
2SSB 5120 Establishing 23-hour crisis relief centers in Washington state.
SSB 5499 Concerning the multistate nurse licensure compact.
SSB 5503 Establishing requirements for uniform clinical placement hours for nursing education programs.
SSB 5547 Concerning nursing pool transparency. Requires traveler agencies to register and report information by county to the Department of Health.
ESHB 1073 Amends the medical assistant credentialing statute for hemodialysis technicians and phlebotomists to improve retention of trained health care workers.

Bills WSHA opposes

HB 1508 Improving consumer affordability through the health care cost transparency board.
SSB 5236 Concerning hospital staffing standards.
SSB 5393 Addressing affordability through health care provider contracting.

Bills with which WSHA has concerns and is trying to amend

SHB 1320 Concerning access to personnel records.
SHB 1589 Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future.
SSB 5440 Providing timely competency evaluations and restoration services to persons suffering from behavioral health disorders.
HB 1593/SSB 5454 Concerning industrial insurance coverage for posttraumatic stress disorders affecting registered nurses.

Bills on which WSHA in neutral

SB 5241 Concerning material changes to the operations and governance structure of participants in the health care marketplace.
SHB 1155 Addressing the collection, sharing, and selling of consumer health data.
SHB 1255 Reducing stigma and incentivizing health care professionals to participate in a substance use disorder monitoring and treatment program.
SSB 5481 Concerning the uniform telemedicine act.

WSHA Weighing In: Feb. 27-March 3

WSHA weighed in on the following bills this week:

Tuesday, Feb. 28

  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • SB 5036: Concerning telemedicine. (Remy Kerr)
    • SSB 5338: Reviewing the state’s essential health benefits. (Andrew Busz)

Thank you for testifying!

Thank you to everyone who testified in support of WSHA’s legislative efforts over the last week:

  • Jennifer Burkhardt, Chief Legal and Talent Officer, Summit Pacific Medical Center
  • Florence Chang, President, MultiCare Health System
  • Jon Duarte, Chief Strategy Officer, Overlake Medical Center
  • David Hargreaves, Board Chair, MultiCare Yakima Memorial Hospital


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