Inside Olympia: Hospital uninterrupted breaks bill advances, second cutoff has passed

April 8, 2019

The legislature passed another hurdle on Wednesday, April 3 with the policy cutoff for bills in the opposite chamber. The good news is that many of the bills WSHA supported continue to move through the process. The bad news is that a small handful of very troubling bills also continues to advance. See below for the listing of the priority bills still alive after April 3. The next cutoff for bill with fiscal impact is Tuesday, April 9. Additionally, lawmakers continue to work on the 2019-2021 budget.

SHB 1155: Hospital staffing legislation passes Ways & Means

SHB 1155, mandating uninterrupted meal and rest breaks and restricting overtime and on-call for nurses and certain technicians and technologists, advanced from the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on Wednesday, April 3. It now advances to the full Senate and is eligible to be voting on for passage. WSHA remains opposed to this bill.

We are continuing to work this issue very aggressively and remain opposed to the negative consequences this bill will have on patient care delivery. (Lauren McDonald)

E2SHB 1523 and ESSB 5526: Public option bills remain alive with conflicting language

Both public option bills, E2SHB 1523 and ESSB 5526, have passed through their original chamber and are now being considered in the opposite chamber. Both bills seek to reduce the cost of health plans sold on the Health Benefit Exchange by establishing a public-option-qualified-health plan that would be offered by carriers. No version of the bill has included language to make hospital, provider or carrier participation in a public option plan mandatory. The original House version said the new public option plan needed to include provider rates that were no more than the amount Medicare would pay. The Senate version excludes the rate cap language and directs the Health Care Authority (HCA) to negotiate lower premiums with interested carriers. WSHA opposes including rate caps in the bills but supports efforts to achieve lower premiums and developing solutions to reduce the total cost of care spending.

Both bills were amended in the policy committee of opposite chamber. In a twist, the Senate bill now includes a Medicare rate cap and the House bill excludes the rate cap language and directs the HCA to negotiate lower premiums with interested carriers. Most recently, these bills were heard in the fiscal committee of each chamber. WSHA testified in support of E2SHB 1525 and in opposition of ESSB 5526. WSHA will continue to provide updates in Inside Olympia and utilize our internal advisory group for feedback and direction. (Shirley Prasad)

News coverage: Washington nurses, hospitals at odds over bill limiting overtime, requiring rest breaks (from The Spokesman-Review April 2)

Hospitals lobbied successfully for exceptions to be made in the cases of organ transplants and those who work with victims of sexual assault, WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer said in the article, published April 2 in the Spokesman-Review. Read the article.

Hospitals are now warning the bill could have unintended consequences for staffing at rural hospitals and certain reproductive care for women at larger facilities. “I think that’s the underlying fallacy of the bill,” Cassie said. “In order for the bill to work, you would have to have human beings perfectly schedule their health crises.”

High priority bills still alive after second cutoff (bills must have passed the policy committee in the opposite chamber)

Bills WSHA Supports

HB 1016 Concerning timely access to sexual assault nurse examiners
2SHB 1166 Supporting sexual assault survivors
EHB 1175 Concerning health care decision making for patients who lack capacity
2SHB 1394 Concerning community facilities needed to ensure a continuum of care for behavioral health patients (includes extending the CN exemption for psychiatric beds)
SHB 1406 Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing
E2SHB 1523 Public Option – Increasing the availability of quality, affordable coverage in the insurance market through an active purchaser-type model
E2SHB 1593 Establishing a behavioral health innovation and integration campus within the University of Washington School of Medicine
SHB 1686 Posting of hospital certain policies
2SHB 1907 Concerning the substance use disorder treatment system
HB 1931 Concerning workplace violence in health care settings
SB 5380 Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention and related services
E2SSB 5483 Improved services for individuals with developmental disabilities
SSB 5537 Expanding community-based behavioral health facilities through issuance of state bonds
2SSB 5672 Contracting for adult family home specialty services
SB 5734 Concerning the hospital safety net assessment
SSB 5385 Concerning telemedicine payment parity


Bills WSHA opposes

SHB 1155 Uninterrupted meal/rest breaks and restrictions to on-call and overtime
SSB 5163 Concerning wrongful death
ESSB 5526 Public Option – Increasing the availability of quality, affordable coverage in the insurance market by capping provider rates to Medicare levels


Bills on which WSHA is neutral

HB 1049 Concerning health care provider and health care facility whistleblower protections
HB 1065 Balance billing – creating an arbitration process for out-of-network claims disputes
SHB 1071 Data breach notification
ESHB 1450 Noncompete agreements
SHB 1531 Placing limits on medical debt
SHB 1602 Placing limits on consumer debt
SHB 1607 Requiring notice for certain health care transactions
ESSB 5258 Protecting isolated workers
ESSB 5478 Noncompete agreements
2SSB 5602 Regarding reproductive health care
E2SSB 5720 Concerning the involuntary treatment act


Bills with which WSHA has concerns

E2SHB 1874 Regarding parent and family-initiated treatment
2SSB 5376 Consumer data privacy

Notable bills that have died

HB 1608 & SB 5542 Restricting hospital ability to appropriately manage quality and safety of patient care
HB 1810 Concerning rural hospital payment changes
HB 1854 Consumer data privacy
SB 5295 Concerning labor neutrality and contractor compliance for certain contracted service providers
SB 5344 Addressing nurse fatigue (WSHA supported)


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