Provider and facility liability protections and regulation of acute care hospitals

February 8, 2021

We are quickly approaching the first cutoff of session Feb. 15, when a policy bill must pass its committee of origin (excluding House Appropriations Committee and Senate Ways & Means Committee). WSHA will be summarizing the list of bills still alive after cutoff. While there may be some last-minute bills added to the schedule, WSHA will be addressing the following major legislation this week:

SB 5271: Providing liability protections for health care providers and facilities that recognizes the evolving standards of care during COVID-19

WSHA strongly supports SB 5271, which provides legal protections for health care providers and facilities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s current standard of care law still applies but during the period of the pandemic, the bill includes additional considerations so the law  more accurately reflects the challenging practice environment providers have faced during the declared emergency. These challenges have included evolving and sometimes conflicting guidance from local, state, and federal health officials regarding treatment for COVID-19-infected patients, shortages of PPE and testing supplies, and the proclamation from the governor on non-urgent procedures that resulted in delayed or missed health screenings and diagnoses.

This legislation is important priority for WSHA members. Health care providers in Washington State are already experiencing increased premiums and pandemic-related exclusions in insurance coverage. The number of incident reports – which are often a precursor to lawsuits – is increasing. Washington State is one of just 14 states to receive an “F” grade from Health Affairs on legal protections for its own health care providers.

WSHA’s input played a key role in crafting this legislation. Read more from WSHA’s issue brief. The Senate Committee on Law & Justice will hold a public hearing on SB 5271 on Tuesday, Feb. 9. (Alicia Eyler)

HB 1148: Expanded regulation of acute care hospitals

WSHA has worked to amend HB 1148, which expands the regulatory and disciplinary authority of the Department of Health (DOH) over acute care hospitals. Last year, WSHA addressed this issue for freestanding psychiatric hospitals. This bill expands this regulatory structure to acute care hospitals. WSHA worked with the DOH to make refinements to the bill as it applies to acute care hospitals. Read more about HB 1148 from the Jan. 19 Inside Olympia. The House Committee on Appropriations will hold a public hearing on HB 1148 on Tuesday, Feb. 9. (Shirley Prasad)

WSHA Weighing In: Feb. 8-12

WSHA is weighing in on the following bills this week:

Monday, Feb. 8

  • House Appropriations
    • HB 1096: Concerning nonmedicare plans offered through the Washington state health insurance pool. (Shirley Prasad)
  • House Finance
    • HB 1477: – Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services. (See article above.) (Jaclyn Greenberg)
  • House Health Care & Wellness
    • HB 1378: Concerning the supervision of medical assistants. (David Streeter)
    • HB 1445: Concerning the definition of compounding for purposes of the practice of pharmacy. (David Streeter)
  • House State Government & Tribal Relations
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • SSB 5062: Concerning the management, oversight, and use of data. (Alicia Eyler)

Tuesday, Feb. 9

  • House Appropriations
    • SHB 1148: Protecting patients in acute care hospitals. (See article above.) (Shirley Prasad)
  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary
    • HB 1447: Concerning the garnishment of a debtor’s wages, funds, or other property. (Zosia Stanley)
  • Senate Law & Justice
    • SB 5271: Amending the necessary elements of proof of injury during the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (See article above.) (Alicia Eyler)
  • Senate Ways & Means
    • SSB 5294:  Concerning the creation of statewide epidemic preparedness and response guidelines for long-term care facilities. (Andrew Busz)

Wednesday, Feb. 10

  • House College & Workforce Development
  • House Labor & Workplace Standards
    • HB 1474: Strengthening penalty and audit tools for employer violations in unemployment insurance. (David Streeter)
    • HB 1486: Concerning qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work. (David Streeter)
  • Senate Health & Long Term Care
    • SB 5420: Concerning data reporting requirements for hospitals. (Zosia Stanley)

Thursday, Feb. 11

  • House Appropriations
    • SHB 1061: Concerning youth eligible for developmental disability services who are expected to exit the child welfare system. (Zosia Stanley)

Friday, Feb. 12

  • House Commerce & Gaming
    • HB 1463: Addressing serious mental health consequences of high-potency cannabis products by regulating the sale of cannabis concentrates. (Jaclyn Greenberg)

Thank you for testifying!

Thank you to everyone who has testified in support of WSHA’s legislative efforts:

  • Jennifer Burkhardt, Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel, Olympic Medical Center
  • Timothy Reed, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital
  • Alan Fisher, CEO, Mid-Valley Hospital
  • Ramona Hicks, CEO, Coulee Medical Center
  • Mary Quinlan, Executive Director of MultiCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness, MultiCare Health System


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