Legislative session is now underway

January 13, 2020

The 2020 legislative session begins today. This year’s session is the second in the two-year biennium and will last for 60 days, making it a “short” session. Given this is a supplemental year with no major new revenues, we do not expect new big investments for health care. Our priorities for this session work are to:

  • Ensure patients have access to care before, during and after hospitalization
  • Ensure hospitals can be stable institutions serving their communities, long into the future
  • Maintain flexibility for hospital operations while preventing burdensome and costly new regulations

You can read our full list of legislative priorities on our website. Policy and budget briefs are now available on our website as well.

This week’s high- and medium-priority bills being heard

HB 1854 / SB 5376: Concerning the management and oversight of personal data

WSHA is closely monitoring HB 1854 / SB 5376, which would create a general data privacy framework in Washington State. WSHA supports efforts to enhance consumers’ access to and control of their personal data. Hospitals and health systems maintain stringent privacy and security standards toward these goals, as regulated entities under several state and federal laws, including HIPAA. WSHA maintains the position that this new privacy framework should acknowledge existing federal and state protections through carefully constructed exemptions.

WSHA supports meaningful exemption language for those health care privacy laws that recognize these existing standards, and which are required to protect patient safety and public health, and support care coordination and increasing quality of care. We will provide an update on HB 1854 / SB 5376 when more information becomes available. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

HB 2036: Health system transparency

WSHA opposes HB 2036, which institutes burdensome and excessive reporting requirements on hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities. The bill would require a huge expansion in the required level of reporting detail, far beyond what is required for other health care entities. Among the reporting requirements are all revenues and expenses greater than $50,000. There is no clear reason for this level of reporting detail, and many of these requirements would be duplicative – the data is already available.

Hospitals and health care providers in Washington State currently report health care financial information to the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the All Payer Claims Database and others. WSHA supports developing and maintaining robust, reliable data sources to provide information on the cost and cost drivers of health care, but we are unclear of the goals of HB 2036. (Zosia Stanley)

HB 2318: Sexual assault kits

WSHA supports HB 2318, which is a comprehensive bill that optimizes the storage and handling of evidence gathered during sexual assault examinations. Specifically, the bill requires all evidence to be kept and tracked together, including evidence requiring cold storage. It also requires unreported sexual assault kits — which are kits that are not yet tied to a police report — to be stored with local law enforcement, and that they be retained for twenty years. Hospitals currently store many of these unreported kits but are not the most appropriate setting given these kits may be used in criminal prosecution. WSHA will continue to work with the bill sponsor to make sure the law is clear about how unreported kits are appropriately transported from hospitals and stored with local law enforcement.

Optimizing evidence handling would improve law enforcement’s response to sexual assault, allowing survivors to generate police reports when they feel comfortable and ensuring that evidence remains viable at that time. This would also better allow for evidence to be linked between cases to stop serial offenders. (Lauren McDonald)

HB 2376 / SB 6209: Nurse Licensure Compact

WSHA strongly supports HB 2376 / SB 6209, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows nurses that meet uniform licensure requirements to practice in other compact states without obtaining an additional license. This change is especially important in border communities. In the face of a nursing shortage, the NLC is a critical tool to addressing workforce challenges – in turn, allowing hospitals to ensure access to care for patients while maintaining the state’s enforcement authority to protect public safety. There are 34 other states that have implemented the NLC, with an additional two states awaiting implementation. (Lauren McDonald)

SB 6061: Training standards for telemedicine

WSHA opposes SB 6061, which mandates telemedicine training for providers, except physicians. WSHA supported similar legislation in 2019 that allowed for optional training after the bill was changed from mandatory to optional. WSHA believes hospitals should be able to manage their own training standards. This helps increase the use of telemedicine services and improves patient access to these services. (Shirley Prasad)

Join us for our legislative session kickoff webcast Wednesday, Jan. 15

Please join us at noon Wednesday, Jan. 15 for our annual Legislative Session Kickoff webinar for members. The webinar will cover what to expect during the 2020 legislative session and give an overview of WSHA’s legislative priorities and hot topics. It will also include an opportunity to ask questions of WSHA’s Government Affairs leaders. We will record the webinar for our members to watch at their convenience. Register now. (Chelene Whiteaker)

Hospital Advocacy Days in Olympia Jan. 29-30

Please join us in Olympia for 2020 Hospital Advocacy Days Jan. 29-30! This will be our second-annual Hospital Advocacy Days, and we will spend the time voicing support for our legislative priorities, talking with legislators and telling the hospital story. The event kicks off the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 29 with a legislative briefing, advocacy training and networking dinner. On Jan. 30, we will have a second legislative briefing (a repeat of the Wednesday briefing, in case you can’t make the first one) followed by legislative visits throughout the day. We look forward to working with our elected leaders to advance legislation that benefits Washingtonians and helps them live the healthiest lives they can.

The registration deadline has been extended! Please register online. See you in Olympia! (Shirley Prasad)

WSHA Legislative Testimony: January 13-17

WSHA is testifying on the following bills this week:
Tuesday, Jan. 14

Wednesday, Jan. 15

  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • HB 1552: Concerning health care provider credentialing by health carriers (Lauren McDonald)
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care

Friday, Jan. 17

  • House Health Care & Wellness
  • House Innovation, Technology & Economic Development
  • Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections
    • SB 6070: Concerning public disclosures by state-funded substance use disorder treatment programs and facilities (Jaclyn Greenberg)


Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax


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