Legislature Passes Health Care Legislation

March 7, 2024

Friday, March 1 was the last day for the legislature to pass bills from the opposite chamber, except for initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets. Differences between versions passed in the House and Senate need to be concurred or reconciled prior to the end of session. Below are some of the health care policy bills that have passed with concurrence. WSHA supported all these bills.

  • SB 5986- Balance Billing- Ground Ambulance Services. This bill expands the state’s balance billing protection act to protect patients from balance billing for out-of-network ground ambulance services provided on an emergency basis and for medically necessary transfers. The bill includes a minimum payment threshold for out-of-network services to ensure financial viability of ground ambulance services.
  • SB 5802- Nursing Facility Rate Calculation. This bill replaces the existing skilled nursing acuity adjustment with the new adjustment mechanism supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This will help ensure Medicaid payment for skilled nursing facilities more closely reflects the relative acuity and cost of services, particularly for facilities serving complex patients.
  • SB 5825- Guardianship. This bill creates a process to identify assign guardians more quickly for patients who are unable to make care decisions nor have someone that can legally make them on their behalf. This bill will help reduce the time to place patients awaiting discharge due to lack of guardianship to a more appropriate facility.
  • SB 5213- Pharmacy Benefit Managers. This bill creates a regulatory structure for pharmacy benefit managers as a type of health care benefit manager. The bill includes important protections for patients and pharmacies.
  • SB 5940- Medical Assistants and Emergent Medical Technicians. This will allow EMT-basic, EMT-advanced and paramedics to work in hospitals through a new medical assistant credential using their existing training and education. This will particularly benefit rural hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) systems.

For a list of other policy bills that passed this session, see our Inside Olympia.

WSHA will be providing members more details regarding these and other bills through bulletins and will update WSHA’s New Law Implementation Guide as more information is available. (Andrew Busz, andrewb@wsha.org)


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