Inside Olympia: Status of high-priority bills after opposite chamber cutoff

March 9, 2020

With just days left in the 2020 legislative session, Friday, March 6 was the deadline for legislators to pass bills out of the opposite chamber. Overall, WSHA is pleased with the results of policy bills this session. Nearly all of our major priorities have passed and many of the changes we requested in other bills have been adopted.

Next, bills that have passed become law (unless vetoed by the Governor), though if the details differ between the House and Senate’s versions of the bill, the final bill language will need to be concurred within the original chamber or negotiated between the two prior to the last day of session, Thursday, March 12. The Legislature is also working on finalizing the 2020 supplemental budget, which we expect to be released mid-week and must be passed by both chambers by the last day of session.

EHB 2965: Relating to the state’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

WSHA strongly supported the Legislature’s swift passage of EHB 2965 to provide funding for the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The bill authorizes $100 million in funding for the state’s response from the Rainy Day Fund (the budget stabilization account), with an additional $25 million appropriation in federal funds. The bill gives broad authority to state agencies to distribute the funds to local governments and tribes responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and authorizes the Department of Social and Health Services to determine payments to nursing facilities to help them take patients who are stuck in hospitals. WSHA will continue to strongly advocate for the need to discharge patients no longer needing acute care services.

In addition to funding for the response, the bill includes an important change to allow individuals under quarantine or isolation to access unemployment insurance benefits without meeting the usual “available to work” requirements. The bill goes back to the House for a vote on the Senate’s changes before awaiting the governor’s signature. Funding levels referenced in the bill will also need to be added to the final supplemental budget.

2SSB 6275: Increasing patient access rights to timely and appropriate post-acute care

WSHA is deeply disappointed that this bill was not passed by the full House and is dead. WSHA will pursue budget funding to address many of the issues raised in the bill. The Senate budget contained $17 million in total funds for DSHS to improve staffing, seek a presumptive eligibility waiver, and pursue specialty contracts for long-term care and developmental disabilities. WSHA strongly supported 2SSB 6275 to expedite hospital discharge for Medicaid patients in need of post-acute care. This is part of WSHA’s work to address the challenge of difficult-to-discharge patients stuck in our hospitals due to barriers in accessing post-acute care. WSHA’s input played a key role in crafting this legislation. Read more from the Jan. 27 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

ESSB 6404: Establishing a prior authorization work group and creating recommendations

WSHA strongly supports ESSB 6404, which would help create uniform recommendations for when prior authorization is used. WSHA’s input played a key role in crafting this legislation. Because of outstanding issues related to the work group recommendations, the bill was amended to focus on the data submission and reporting provisions of the bill. Health plans will be required to submit data regarding their top prior authorizations for medical/surgical services, behavioral health services, durable medical equipment, and diabetes supplies and equipment. ESSB 6404 has passed both chambers and the two chambers will need to resolve the differences between the versions that were passed. Read more from the Feb. 20 Inside Olympia. (Andrew Busz)

SSB 6358 (now EHB 1552): Requiring Medicaid managed care organizations to provide reimbursement of health care services provided by substitute providers

WSHA strongly supported SSB 6358, which would require Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to follow Medicare policy in how substitute providers are reimbursed when they fill in at a facility for longer than 60 days. It would also expand the instances in which substitute providers could be used. WSHA’s input played a key role in crafting this legislation, which was added in its entirely to another bill, EHB 1552, requiring private health insurers to reimburse for allowable services as of the date a provider submits a completed application for credentialing (a policy WSHA also supported). The entire package, including the changes for substitute providers, passed the Senate unanimously as EHB 1552, and now will go back to the House for concurrence. Read more from the Jan. 27 Inside Olympia. (Lauren McDonald)

SB 6359: Creating regulation exemptions for Rural Health Clinics providing services in a designated home health shortage area

WSHA strongly supports SB 6359, which would allow Rural Health Clinics in shortage areas to offer a limited scope of services — including home nursing visits — to homebound patients, increasing access to critical services in underserved communities. WSHA’s input played a key role in crafting this legislation. SB 6359 passed both chambers and now awaits the governor’s signature to become law. Read more from the Jan. 27 Inside Olympia. (Jacqueline Barton True)

ESSB 5385: Concerning telemedicine payment parity

WSHA strongly supports ESSB 5385, which allows telemedicine services to be paid for at the same rate as in-person visits. It also removes the requirement that a patient must first have an in-person visit with a provider before the use of store-and-forward technology will be reimbursed. After seven years of advocacy, this bill passed both chambers of the Legislature! Since the bill was amended in the House, it will need to be concurred on in the Senate before it can become law. Once it does, telemedicine payment parity for commercial plans and public employee (PEBB) and school employee plans will be in effect as on Jan. 1, 2021. Payment parity for Medicaid plans and other provisions of the bill, including no longer requiring an in-person visit with a provider before the use of store-and-forward technology will be reimbursed, will be in effect immediately because an emergency clause was adopted. Read the Feb. 12 Inside Olympia for more information. (Shirley Prasad)

ESHB 2036: Concerning health system transparency

WSHA opposed ESHB 2036, which institutes burdensome and excessive reporting requirements on hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities. WSHA negotiated heavily on the version that passed the House. In a last minute surprise, this bill did not move out of Senate Ways and Means and is dead, though portions could be amended onto another bill or the budget. Read more from the Jan. 13 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

SHB 2426: Increasing oversight of freestanding psychiatric hospitals

WSHA engaged in extensive negotiations with SHB 2426, which creates new and considerable oversight by DOH on freestanding psychiatric hospitals. The bill was requested by the governor. The final bill reflects numerous improvements from the language originally introduced, including striking a provisional license requirement for new hospitals, adding parameters on when DOH can exercise various enforcement tools, adding a robust appeals process, and having more clear guidelines for reporting rare patient elopements and deaths. The bill passed the Senate with amendments. Before it can become law, it returns to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments. (Shirley Prasad)

2SHB 2457: Establishing a cost transparency board

WSHA has concerns with 2SHB 2457, which would establish a cost transparency board to analyze the total health care expenditures in Washington, identify trends in health care cost growth and establish a health care growth benchmark. We helped secure the amendment that includes consideration of cost drivers, such as wages and prescription drug costs. 2SHB 2457 has passed both the House and Senate, and the two chambers need to reconcile the differences between the versions passed by the two chambers. Read more from the Jan. 20 Inside Olympia. (Zosia Stanley)

2E2SSB 5720: Concerning the Involuntary Treatment Act

WSHA is neutral on 2E2SSB 5720, which makes significant changes to the Involuntary Treatment Act, including increasing the initial detention period and lowering criteria for detention through definitional changes. WSHA has had strong concerns about proposed definitional changes and their negative implications on overall bed capacity without adequate funding to care for the increased numbers of patients. We were pleased to see that the House passed a version of the bill that says that the definitional changes may only go into effect if single bed certification use declines significantly and remains measurably low for a certain period of time. The bill retains the change in commitment hearing timeline from 72 hours to 120 hours. The bill has passed both chambers and the differences between the House and Senate version of the bill need to be resolved. Read the Feb. 12 Inside Olympia for more information. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

2SSB 6281: Concerning the management and oversight of personal data

WSHA moved from support to neutral on 2SSB 6281, which would create a general data privacy framework in Washington State. We are very pleased to see the bill’s clear coordination with the existing universe of health privacy laws through careful exemption language, but we are concerned with the enforcement provisions as passed out of the House policy and fiscal committees. The bill may be referred to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the versions passed by the two chambers.  Read the Feb. 12 Inside Olympia for more information. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

ESHB 2318: Sexual assault kits

WSHA supports ESHB 2318, which is a comprehensive bill that optimizes the storage and handling of evidence gathered during sexual assault examinations. ESHB 2318 has passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature to become law. Read more from the Jan. 13 Inside Olympia. (Lauren McDonald)

ESHB 1608: Protecting patient care

ESHB 1608 would have prohibited hospitals and health care facilities from appropriately managing the types and quality of services provided by health care providers. WSHA actively negotiated with the bill sponsor and stakeholders to narrow the bill to ensure patients receive information about treatment options. WSHA supports the narrowly tailored language in ESHB 1608. The bill passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature to become law. Read the Feb. 12 Inside Olympia for more information. (Zosia Stanley)

High-priority bills still alive after cutoff

Bills WSHA Supports

HB 1552 Concerning health care provider credentialing by health carriers, and requiring managed care organizations to provide reimbursement of health care services provided by substitute providers.
HB 1590 Allowing the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by a councilmanic authority.
ESHB 1608 Protecting patient care. Support current language only.
SHB 2318 Advancing criminal investigatory practices (sexual assault kits).
HB 2416 Relating to disclosures of information and records related to forensic mental health services.
SHB 2419 Studying barriers to the use of the Washington death with dignity act.
SHB 2448 Concerning enhanced services facilities.
HB 2737 Updating the children’s mental health work group.
SHB 2883 Expanding adolescent behavioral health care access.
ESSB 6040 Concerning the budgeting process for certain state waiver services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
SSB 6088 Establishing a prescription drug affordability board.
SB 6359 Creating regulation exemptions for rural health clinics providing services in a designated home health shortage area.
SSB 6404 Adopting prior authorization and appropriate use criteria in patient care.


Bills on which WSHA is neutral

SHB 2409 Concerning industrial insurance employer penalties, duties and the licensing of third-party administrators.
2SHB 2457 Establishing a cost transparency board.
SHB 2464 Protecting patients from excess prescription medication charges.
2E2SSB 5720 Concerning the Involuntary Treatment Act.
SSB 6058 Concerning fire district health clinic services.
2SHB 6281 Concerning the management and oversight of personal data.
SSB 6440 Concerning industrial insurance medical examinations.


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