Washington State hospitals have a long history of working to improve access to health care services. Years ago, WSHA members committed to maintaining a certain level of charity care as a way of showing that commitment. Since then, WSHA has also been a strong advocate for Medicaid expansion and patient education about hospital costs and bills.
But there are still gaps in coverage in Washington: some people aren’t eligible for state or federal programs, or they can only afford high-deductible plans. While these have a lower monthly cost, one unexpected trip to the emergency department can leave a family in serious financial trouble.
Hospitals provide significant access financial assistance to patients, but each hospital’s process has evolved differently. This has caused concern for patients, as they are faced with different sets of forms in different settings.
To address these concerns, WSHA and a group of members convened to create both a standard financial assistance application form and a standard plan for communicating and giving notice of the fact that financial help is out there. What’s more, the WSHA Board of Trustees unanimously voted to urge every hospital in Washington State to adopt these documents. It’s the right thing to do for our patients, our communities and our hospitals.
The work doesn’t stop there — we’re committed to ensuring that hospitals use the forms, that they keep the process easy for patients and that they comply with state and federal laws. WSHA will continue to work with hospitals to follow up on each hospital’s plans for adoption, and you can see our recent bulletin for much more information about this work and details about an upcoming members-only webcast. WSHA will also translate the application form into 12 languages, and these translated materials are coming soon.
We are very appreciative of the work done by our Policy Director Zosia Stanley and the wonderful group of members who worked to develop the form and communications plan.
Ensuring that all our state’s residents have access to the care they need is essential in keeping our communities healthy, which is a key element of the triple aim of health care and WSHA’s mission.
Senior Vice President, Policy Development