Legislative session adjourns

March 18, 2022

The legislative session adjourned on Thursday, March 10. WSHA is pleased to report that this year was largely successful for hospitals and health care. This Inside Olympia edition summarizes noteworthy bills that WSHA worked on and their results. Most notably, we are pleased to report that HB 1868, which would have mandated strict hospital staffing ratios, did not pass out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which means the bill died this session. Hospitals around the state were very concerned that enacting a law that required nurse-to-patient ratios at all times would have resulted in closure of beds. This is a massive victory for patients across the state, the hospitals that care for them, and other health care providers.

The final budget also brought great news for health care, with the Legislature funding all of WSHA’s budget priorities, including nearly $550 million in funding to address barriers to discharge and ensure that patients who are ready to leave the hospital have an appropriate place to receive long-term services during the pandemic and beyond. Read more about the final budget from WSHA’s March 10 Inside Olympia.

2SSB 5736: Concerning partial hospitalizations and intensive outpatient treatment services for minors

WSHA is pleased the Legislature unanimously passed 2SSB 5736, which allows Washington to join the majority of other states in offering Medicaid coverage for children’s partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment for behavioral health conditions. The bill’s passage follows years of advocacy by WSHA and our member hospitals as well as a year-long successful pilot program in two children’s hospitals. This will provide more equitable access to behavioral health services for Washington’s children and youth and increase inpatient capacity for those who need that level of care. This bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature. (Ashlen Strong)

ESHB 1852: Concerning language requirements for prescription drug labels

WSHA remained engaged in the discussions on the bill until it died at the end of session. The bill was laudable in that it sought to offer prescription labels in additional languages, but unfortunately it created operational challenges for hospitals and health systems as written. Before the bill died, WSHA successfully narrowed the bill’s applicability to outpatient prescriptions for home use and exempted prepackaged opioid reversal medications from translation requirements. WSHA also amended the bill to include liability protections and a minimum of 120 days to prepare for compliance. However, the bill’s death is not the end of this issue. Instead of legislation, the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission will begin rulemaking to require the translation of prescription drug labels later this year. WSHA will plan to participate in the rulemaking and keep WSHA members updated as the process progresses. (David Streeter)

E2SSB 5155: Concerning prejudgment interest

WSHA is pleased that E2SSB 5155 did not pass this session, and the bill died while awaiting a vote by the House. E2SSB 5155 proposed to start interest on tort cases on the date the cause of action accrues, rather than current law that starts when a court has entered a judgement. At the most basic level, this bill would lead to increased medical malpractice premium rates and costs to secure insurance for health care facilities and providers. While the court process has been delayed due to COVID, WSHA opposed the bill, as it was not the right solution to address these delays, especially in the Legislature’s broader effort to make health care more affordable. (Zosia Stanley)

EHB 1837: Restoring the state’s ability to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries

WSHA is pleased that EHB 1837 did not pass this session. The bill generated significant controversy this session and died while awaiting a vote by the Senate. The bill would have restored the Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) authority to issue workplace ergonomic regulations to prevent work-related musculoskeletal injures. The bill cited the health care industry as needing state-level regulation despite the current Safe Patient Handling Law and other employee-centric injury prevention initiatives within hospitals. While WSHA supports efforts to reduce workplace injuries, restoring L&I’s authority to issue broad workplace ergonomics regulations could result in regulations similar to the burdensome regulations that voters rejected in 2003 through I-841. Instead, the key to successful workplace ergonomic safety is training employees to follow specific instructions and procedures to prevent injuries. Ergonomic solutions are highly personalized to the employee and new regulations from L&I would likely hinder this approach. (David Streeter)

High-priority bills that passed this session

Bills WSHA supported

SHB 1616 Concerning the charity care act.
SHB 1735 Modifying the standard for use of force by peace officers.
HB 1739 Modernizing hospital policies related to pathogens of epidemiological concern.
HB 1761 Allowing nurses to dispense opioid overdose reversal medication in the emergency department.
SHB 1773 Concerning assisted outpatient treatment for persons with behavioral health disorders.
2SHB 1890 Concerning the children and youth behavioral health work group.
SHB 1893 Allowing emergency medical technicians to provide medical evaluation, testing, and vaccines outside of an emergency in response to a public health agency request.
ESSB 5268 Transforming services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by increasing the capabilities of community residential settings and redesigning the long-term nature of intermediate care facilities.
E2SSB 5600 Concerning the sustainability and expansion of state registered apprenticeship programs.
E2SSB 5702 Requiring coverage for donor breast milk.
2SSB 5736 Concerning partial hospitalizations and intensive outpatient treatment services for minors.
SSB 5790 Strengthening critical community support services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
SSB 5819 Concerning the developmental disabilities administration’s no-paid services caseload.

Bills on which WSHA was neutral

E2SHB 1688 Protecting consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services, by aligning state law and the federal no surprises act and addressing coverage of treatment for emergency conditions (Bill was amended to address WSHA concerns).
SHB 1708 Concerning facility fees for audio-only telemedicine.
SHB 1779 Requiring policies addressing surgical smoke. (This bill was amended so that WSHA was neutral.)
2SHB 1860 Preventing homelessness among persons discharging from inpatient behavioral health settings.
SSB 5722 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.
SB 5761 Concerning employer requirements for providing wage and salary information to applicants for employment.
SSB 5883 Concerning an unaccompanied homeless youth’s ability to provide informed consent for that minor patient’s own health care, including nonemergency, outpatient, and primary care services, including physical examinations, vision examinations and eyeglasses, dental examinations, hearing examinations and hearing aids, immunizations, treatments for illnesses and conditions, and routine follow-up care customarily provided by a health care provider in an outpatient setting, excluding elective surgeries.

Bills with which WSHA had concerns that passed this session

ESHB 1821 Concerning the definition of established relationship for purposes of audio-only telemedicine.

Notable bills that died this session that WSHA opposed

SHB 1741 Addressing affordability through health care provider contracting.
HB 1754 Concerning prejudgment interest.
HB 1763/ SB 5627 Concerning injured workers’ rights during independent medical examinations.
HB 1809 / SB 5688 Concerning material changes to the operations and governance structure of participants in the health care marketplace.
EHB 1837 Restoring the state’s ability to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
HB 1850 Protecting and enforcing the foundational data privacy rights of Washingtonians.
ESHB 1852 Concerning language requirements for prescription drug labels.
HB 1862 Concerning facility fees charged by certain health care providers.
E2SHB 1868 / SB 5751 Improving worker safety and patient care in health care facilities by addressing staffing needs, overtime, meal and rest breaks, and enforcement.
HB 1983 Concerning a hospital patient’s right to visitors.
SB 5864 Concerning unemployment eligibility for certain unvaccinated employees.
E2SSB 5155 Concerning prejudgment interest.
SB 5517 Concerning employment of individuals who lawfully consume cannabis.
SB 5864 Concerning unemployment eligibility for certain unvaccinated employees.

Bills WSHA supported, but died this session

HB 2083 Addressing consent to long-term care placement and services.

Register now for Legislative Summary Webcast from 12-1 p.m. Wednesday, March 23

Register now to join us our 2022 Legislative Summary Webcast from 12-1 p.m. Wednesday, March 23. This important members-only webinar will provide you with important information from this legislative session, including action you will need to take to comply with newly adopted state law. Contact Communications Director Tim Pfarr at timp@wsha.org with questions.


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