Inside Olympia: Emergency health care waivers to get hearing this week

March 22, 2021

Friday, March 26, marks the next cutoff of session, when bills will need to advance from all committees in the opposite chamber except for fiscal committees. At the end of this week, we also expect to see the draft Senate and House budgets. Stay tuned for more information from Inside Olympia.

We are pleased to report several of our high-priority issues are moving along or have been amended to our satisfaction. We are also pleased that this week ESSB 5178 had a public hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness.

ESSB 5178: Establishing timely consideration of waivers of select state health care laws to enable timely response by the health care system during a governor-declared statewide state of emergency

WSHA strongly supports ESSB 5178, which provides a streamlined process for the governor to consider crucial waivers of state laws in the event of a future statewide emergency, allowing the health care community to respond faster. WSHA identified a group of core state laws that are critical to waive for hospitals to surge in the event of a future state-wide declared emergency. Our input played a key role in crafting this legislation. The House Committee on Health Care & Wellness held a public hearing on ESSB 5178 on Monday, March 22.  Read more from WSHA’s issue brief. (Zosia Stanley)

E2SHB 1152: Supporting measures to create comprehensive public health districts

E2SHB 1152 is governor-requested and was introduced by Rep. Riccelli (D-Spokane) with the intent to reform our state’s public health system. The bill has changed drastically since it was first introduced. WSHA is planning to sign in support of this new version. The bill would create comprehensive public health districts and has the potential to have broad impacts across Washington.

E2SHB 1152 has been amended to create four regional shared service centers to coordinate between local health jurisdictions. A foundational public health steering committee would convene to define the purpose of the regional shared service centers and make various recommendations, including funding recommendations to promote new service delivery models. Among other things, this bill would establish a public health advisory board within the Department of Health (DOH), create new positions for regional health officers to be deputies of the state health officer, and require local health boards in counties with populations fewer than 800,000 to be balanced in composition between elected officials and subject matter experts.

The Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care will hold a public hearing on E2SHB 1152 on Wednesday, March 24. (Alicia Eyler)

WSHA Weighing In: March 22-26

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills this week:

Monday, March 22

  • House Consumer Protection & Business
    • 2SSB 5315: Concerning captive insurance. (Andrew Busz)
  • Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education
    • SHB 1373: Promoting student access to information about behavioral health resources. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • ESSB 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. (REVISED FOR ENGROSSED: Establishing timely considerations of waivers of select state health care laws to enable timely response by the health care system during a governor-declared statewide state of emergency.) (Zosia Stanley)
    • SSB 5325: Concerning telemedicine. (David Streeter)

Tuesday, March 23

  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary
    • E2SSB 5071: Creating transition teams to assist specified persons under civil commitment. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
    • ESSB 5370: Updating mental health advance directive laws. (Jaclyn Greenberg)
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • HB 1096: Concerning nonmedicare plans offered through the Washington state health insurance pool. (Shirley Prasad)

Wednesday, March 24

  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary

Thank you for testifying!

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

  • Diane Blake, Cascade Medical
  • Dr. Timothy Dellit, UW Medicine
  • Timothy Reed, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital
  • Alicia Chapman, Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation
  • Bill Robertson, MultiCare Health System
  • Florence Chang, MultiCare Health System
  • Sean Gregory, PeaceHealth
  • Douglas Ross, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Dorothy Hardin, Skagit Regional Health
  • Peter Rutherford, Confluence Health


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