This past legislative session, WSHA’s advocacy work included supporting House Bill 1175, which we were thrilled to see become law. HB 1175 expanded the list of people who can make health decisions for patients who lack capacity, assisting health care providers in ensuring that patients’ health care decisions are known and honored.
The law went into effect July 28, 2019, and even though it has only been three months, we are already hearing about the real positive impact it is having for Washington residents. Recently, I presented to the annual legislative workshop of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare. I asked if they had heard of this new law. Everyone there knew about the law, and many had a story of using it to benefit patients. They spoke about the positive impact of the expansion of clients’ options for surrogate health care decision-makers in times of crisis. They talked about the seamless involvement of grandchildren, dear friends, aunts, uncles and other family members.
At WSHA, we are dedicated to listening to our members so that your concerns and priorities inform our legislative advocacy. HB 1175 addressed an issue that our members wanted to see changed. Your input drove our legislative work, as we collaborated with WSMA, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, Rep. Christine Kilduff, and other supporters of the bill to turn it into law. I cannot tell you how gratifying it was to hear about the positive patient impact the new law is already having – it often takes years for new public policy to come to fruition, but we put time and energy into getting this rolled out quickly. It was a valuable reminder of why we all work together through the association – to improve health care in our state, and best serve Washington patients.
As we gear up our advocacy in the upcoming legislative session, we look forward to continuing to work with WSHA members to advance policies that increase access to health care. Send us your ideas.