Speeding Through Summer

August 21, 2014

For organizations traditionally in the policy and advocacy business, our annual cycles rotated around the legislative session and election season.

But over the years, WSHA’s scope of work has widened considerably. We’re doing more patient safety work than ever before. Our teams are busy analyzing data, hosting training and learning opportunities, developing and reviewing best practices, and keeping hospitals informed and engaged in this exciting work.

We’re also working continuously with the state and federal agencies who work on our issues. This month has been especially busy on the topic of mental health, as we have worked to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to end psychiatric boarding. Today I did a video chat with the Seattle Times (it’s now posted online). They’ve done an extraordinary job of covering the issue.

In other media news, KUOW Public Radio in Seattle and the Northwest News Network are doing a joint series called “Labor Intensive” that focuses on different aspects of C-section rates. The series features the work hospitals and WSHA are doing to reduce early elective deliveries.

Also not too far away: the 2014 WSHA Annual Meeting. The full brochure and schedule will be coming soon, but it’s not too early to plan on joining us on October 15-16. The theme is “Embracing Disruptive Change in Health Care.” Note that it doesn’t say “Denying” “Delaying” or “Managing” disruptive change. Something to think about.

And we’re getting ready to head into fall— the Seahawks’ regular season starts in just two weeks.

Full speed ahead,

Scott Bond
WSHA President and CEO

WSHA Comments on Network Adequacy Rulemaking

WSHA is submitting comments to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner regarding a new round of rulemaking related to network adequacy. The OIC finished a first round of rulemaking on this subject in April, and filed a Pre-proposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) in July for this second round. Comments on this new CR-101 are due on Friday, August 22.

The OIC has not distributed any text yet, but we anticipate the draft rule will require that prior authorization requests be completed in a timely manner. We believe the rule should further define use of the word “timely,” so we plan to request the rule incorporate (or at least cross-reference) an existing WAC (284-43-410) that spells out reasonable response times for prior authorization requests. We are also planning to ask the OIC to revisit issues decided in April during the first round of rulemaking, such as rural access, exemption standards, and out-of-network cost sharing. (Barbara Gorham, barbarag@wsha.org).

DOH Considering Changing Fee Structure for CN

The Department of Health has informed us they are considering changing the fee structure for Certificate of Need (CN) to increase revenue for the program. The department has not yet decided to propose this change to the legislature, and any change would require legislative approval as part of the budget process. The rationale for the change is that the program is already $64K in the red for the first year of the biennium. The fee proposal would shore up the program and it would also allow them to hire three additional FTE’s to update regulations and make the program run more smoothly.

The department is currently considering two different proposals, both of which would substantially reduce what hospitals and nursing homes pay for CN but would increase fees for other applicants. Currently, hospitals pay about $40K for review of a CN application.  Under the two proposals, all applicants would pay either $25K or $29K for CN review.  Under the $25K proposal, however, the department would charge parties challenging a CN decision for the time spent by the health law judge to review the decision. In addition to questioning the fairness of this proposal, we have raised questions with the department about whether it would be legal to charge an applicant for the judge’s time to rectify an incorrect agency decision. Under both proposals, the CN program would also charge $1,000 for a letter of intent review (currently, there is no charge for this).  For more information, please see this spread sheet from the Department of Health. (Barbara Gorham, barbarag@wsha.org)


Qualis Health Awarded CMS Contract for Quality Improvement Program

Qualis Health, who has been the current Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for Washington and Idaho, and also partners with the Washington State Hospital Association on a variety of quality and safety initiatives, is the recipient of a new five-year contract from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

As part of a restructuring of the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program, CMS has separated medical case review from quality improvement work, creating two separate structures. The new contracts represent the second phase of QIO restructuring, the goal of which is to create a new approach to improve care for beneficiaries, families, and caregivers. The first phase was appointing Livanta as the new point of contact for Medicare QIO appeals and quality concerns.

The contract awardees will work with providers and communities across the country on data-driven quality initiatives. These Quality Improvement Organizations will collectively be known as the Quality Innovation Network (QIN)-QIOs and will be based in communities, health care facilities, and clinical practices.

Washington has had a long and positive history with Qualis Health and their staff. We are pleased that they will continue to serve in our region. To read the press release from CMS in its entirety, click here. (Carol Wagner, carolw@wsha.org)

2014 WHPAC Campaign Kicks Off

The 2014 WHPAC campaign is officially underway.  To date, we have raised almost $40,000 toward our $170,000 goal. Members should have received information and materials about the PAC campaign. If you haven’t, or need additional brochures, please contact Lori Martinez. Early in the campaign, we have two members that have already reached their goal.  Congratulations to Othello Community Hospital and Overlake Medical Center!  We look forward to seeing how many of our members reach their 2014 goal.

In other PAC news, we are supporting many state candidates for election and are in the process of delivering more than $308,000 this election cycle. Thank you to our members for providing input on what candidates you wanted us to support.  We have a very strong and healthy PAC that is well respected in Olympia, which helps us speak with one unified voice.  The PAC is one important way for hospital and health system leaders to elect champions and engage with elected officials. Hospitals and health systems have much at stake in the political process on issues including regulation, patient access to care, reimbursements, health quality reporting, improving patient safety, and more. The PAC helps us elect strong lawmakers and build relationships with them. These conversations ensure they understand how their policies affect your ability to provide safe and quality health care.

We would also like to say thank you to Coverys for their generous sponsorship of our PAC Appreciation Dinner, scheduled for October 15, 2014. Their ongoing support of our PAC has been instrumental in enabling us to use your PAC contributions to directly support candidates running for office. Stay tuned for regular updates on our campaign’s progress! (Lori Martinez, lorim@wsha.org)


St. Elizabeth Achieves Stage 2 Meaningful Use

St. Elizabeth Hospital, of the Franciscan Health System, has achieved the patient portal for Stage 2 Meaningful Use, with support from the INHS Engage service. The Enumclaw, Washington hospital is one of only 78 hospitals that have achieved the Stage 2 milestone out of approximately 5,000 participating hospitals nationally,

Meaningful Use Stage 2 relies on successful patient interactions and secure data transmissions through an effective and friendly patient portal. Engage provides high quality IT services that work with the hospital’s needs to satisfy both patient preferences and federal requirements. Read more. (Deborah Swets, deborahs@wsha.org)

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Hospital Leaders Meet to Discuss Important Federal Issues

Fifteen WSHA members from the 5th congressional district last week met with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who ranks fourth in the House GOP leadership. WSHA members stressed the importance of preserving the 340B drug discount program and of addressing several bits of “unfinished business,” including legislation to fix the 96-hour rule, the two midnights rule, and removal of the direct supervision requirement for therapeutic services.

Members urged rejection of using Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement spending reductions to offset new spending, noting the need for a predictable revenue source that ensures hospitals have the resources they need to continue to transform the delivery of medical services. In the wake of the recently-enacted VA reform bill, McMorris Rodgers requested input about how to redesign the VA to ensure better access to care in rural areas.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the WSHA PAC to make a significant contribution to the Congresswoman’s campaign. (John Flink, John@jwfconsultingdc.com; Chelene Whiteaker, chelenew@wsha.org)

Join the War on Bugs

Antibiotics revolutionized the practice of medicine by providing a rapid cure to many illnesses that were once fatal. But those days may soon be gone. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics has fueled the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There are now some bacteria that are resistant to nearly all — or, in some cases, all — available antibiotics.

“The end of antibiotics is no longer a question” said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, (CAPT, USPHS) Associate Director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are quickly running out of therapies to treat some infections that previously had been eminently treatable.”

Pharmacists and physicians play a key role in Antimicrobial Stewardship (ASP) – using the right antibiotic at the right time and only when necessary. Healthcare providers and organizations are invited to join a new collaborative effort to take on this challenging and important work. The Statewide Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative is convened by the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA) and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Consortium of Washington (ASCOW). The initiative will kick-off at the September 5 WSHA Adverse Drug Event and Antimicrobial Stewardship Safe Table. Those joining the collaborative will meet monthly to develop new strategies and best practices to improve Antimicrobial Stewardship in our state.

Interested in joining the ASP Collaboration and sharing best practices? Contact Amber Theel at ambert@wsha.org or 206-577-1820. (Amber Theel, ambert@wsha.org)

Online Registration Now Open for the WSHA 82nd Annual Meeting

Join hospital and health system leaders from across Washington State – CEOs, Board Members and other C-Suite executives – at WSHA’s 82nd Annual Meeting. With a theme of “Embracing Disruptive Change in Health Care,” the conference takes place October 15-16, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the waterfront in Seattle.

An additional educational opportunity for hospital and health system boards members is the annual “Governance Skills Building Intensive for Trustees and Commissioners,” taking place on Tuesday, October 14. This year we’re also offering an optional “New Board Member Orientation Basics” discussion over breakfast on October 14. See more information at here.

For more information about events and to register for the Annual Meeting, check here.

Please also remember that hotel guest rooms are filling up quickly. Be sure to make your reservation and join us for these information packed events! The hotel reservation deadline is Monday, September 22, 2014.

  • The Edgewater: Reservations Toll Free: 800-624-0670 or 206-728-7000
  • The Seattle Marriott Waterfront: Reservations Toll Free: 800-228-9290 or 206-443-5000

For further information contact Cynthia Hay, (206) 216-2526, cynthiah@wsha.org (Deborah Swets, deborahs@wsha.org)

Upcoming Community Paramedic Conference November 4-5

The Washington State Community Paramedic Conference, entitled “What is the Future of Mobile Integrated Healthcare?” is being held November 4-5, at the DoubleTree Hotel at SeaTac Airport. This day-and-a-half conference will address critical issues for Washington State regarding the integration of EMS into community healthcare programs. Topics will include: conducting needs assessments, developing healthcare partnerships, implementation issues and developing financial sustainability for community paramedic programs. Further information and on-line registration is available on the Washington Fire Chiefs website. (Beth Zborowski, bethz@wsha.org)


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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