Staying focused on health care in short legislative session

January 5, 2018

Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, WSHA, 206-817-4845

Access to care, inside and outside the hospital setting, is heart of WSHA’s 2018 legislative session priorities

Seattle — Keeping communities and patients at the center, the Washington State Hospital Association announced its legislative priorities for the 2018 legislative session.

“Even with the rapid pace of change in the health care industry, the constant is our communities’ dependence upon and trust in our ongoing commitment to provide exceptional care and service for all patients 24/7/365,” said Bob Malte, WSHA board chair and CEO of EvergreenHealth. “We look forward to again working with our legislators and other organizations to ensure this commitment is preserved, even in the midst of change. Like hospitals, our legislators serve to protect our communities’ well-being and together we hope to increase people’s access to services, whether in hospitals, clinics or specialty care settings.”

Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Chris Bandoli said that a short session is not usually the setting for big agendas, but there are still meaningful improvements that can be made. “For our hospital members, it always comes back to, ‘How can I help the people in my community?’ That’s why we have a significant focus on improving the number and kind of behavioral health treatment options in our state. And that will continue to be a priority for a long time.”

Other legislative priorities are to:

  1. Ensure that hospitals can be stable institutions in their communities, long into the future. Access to health coverage for adults and children is essential, in both urban and rural communities. It’s also important to protect primary and specialty care that is delivered to Medicaid patients at hospital based clinics, and to allow providers to work together in localized systems of care.
  2. Within a safety-focused reasonable regulatory environment, have the flexibility to respond to changing needs and opportunities to improve care. Hospitals are already extremely well-regulated sites of care, so it’s important that any new regulation be appropriate and proven to improve care.
  3. Make it easier to meet patient needs in lower-cost (non-hospital) settings. The men and women who work in hospitals can perform miracles of lifesaving and healing, but the hospital is not the right place for every patient. WSHA supports the development of facilities dedicated to mental health and substance abuse treatment, and adequate payment for those services.
  4. Advocate for patients and hospital employees. There are a variety of legislative opportunities to improve life for patients and employees, including clarifications to the charity care law, improved informed consent, appropriate weapons policies, opioid treatment, advanced directives, and billing transparency.

For a more detailed list of the specific policy proposals approved by the WSHA board of trustees, visit:


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