The 2016 legislative session is now underway

January 12, 2016

WSHA legislative priorities

The 2016 legislative session is now underway, and this year’s session is slated to be a short one. This year, a supplemental budget year, our top budget priority is mental health, which Governor Jay Inslee also identified as a major need in his December supplemental budget. We are hoping to continue the gains in mental health funding that began last year.

WSHA’s top policy priorities are:

  • Pharmacy: WSHA is seeking legislation or state agency action that will require the state to implement a new path for hospital-based pharmacies to obtain licenses. This was enacted last session with SB 5460, but there have been barriers to implementation.
  • Mental health: WSHA continues to advocate for mental health legislation on multiple fronts, pushing for student loan forgiveness for mental health professionals, maintaining funding for community mental health beds and expanding capital funding for new mental health beds, securing reasonable Medicaid rates for new mental health beds, better access to state psychiatric hospitals, and better behavioral health care for children and adolescents.
  • Interstate physician licensure compact: WSHA supports legislation that makes it easier for physicians to practice in multiple states. This will make it easier for physicians to provide care in border communities or through telemedicine.
  • Rural health care flexibility: WSHA wants to ensure that critical access hospitals that may decide to take a risk and try new value-based payment and delivery models are able to return to their Critical Access Hospital status if the new payment models will not be able to sustain the hospital. This flexibility would be an option for only about a dozen very small, rural hospitals.
  • Support a reasonable regulatory environment on issues such as community benefits, mergers and affiliations, and ensuring a level playing field for regulated entities.
  • Appropriate opioid prescribing: WSHA looks for the state to provide better access for health care providers through its Prescription Monitoring Program to make sure opioids are used appropriately.

Click here to read about all of WSHA’s priorities for the 2016 legislative session.

Quick session, quick hearing schedules

During this short session, we’ll work quickly on legislation that impacts hospitals and health care in Washington State. Hearings are often scheduled on short notice, which means that we have little notice when it comes to arranging experts to testify during hearings.

Having hospital leaders and staff testify at committee hearings is crucial to our success in Olympia. Your stories are powerful! We realize that it can be hard to shift schedules around to make a trip to Olympia to testify, but your expertise is crucial in affecting positive change for health care in our state. If you’re a WSHA member and you know you’d be interested in testifying on a particular issue, we would love to know that in advance. Please contact Cassie Sauer ( or any other member of the team for more information.


WSHA strives to be a resource to members, policymakers and the public during the legislative session. Here are some of the formal and informal ways that we will keep in touch with you throughout the session.

Inside Olympia is delivered to subscribers on a weekly basis during the legislative session, though occasionally more often if issues are moving quickly. Our goal is to tell you what’s happening in the Legislature around key hospital issues, provide insight into the issues, and help your hospital respond.

  • Distributed to a public audience and posted online at
  • Usually distributed on Tuesday, but responsive to events
  • Often includes calls-to-action on specific legislation
  • Includes a list of bills that WSHA and AWPHD will be testifying on in the coming week

Issue Briefs are summaries of the key issues for hospitals. They are written for a legislative and public audience, and can serve as both an issue briefing paper and as talking points. Published online at

Bulletins are in-depth reports on important issues of state and federal public policy.

The WSHA website has resources for WSHA members and the public, including:

Webcasts are held throughout the session to discuss current legislative events.

We are also available by email or phone. For more information, contact Mary Kay Clunies-Ross (206/817-4845) or any other member of the Policy/Advocacy team.

WSHA legislative testimony: Jan. 12-18

WSHA is planning to testify on the following bills:

Wednesday, January 13
House Appropriations Committee — Public hearing on the governor’s 2016 supplemental operating budget proposal. WSHA will testify about the importance of mental health.

HB 2335, Health Care & Wellness Committee — Addressing health care provider credentialing. WSHA will testify in support of streamlining credentialing to allow physicians to provide timely care to their community.

Thursday, January 14
Senate Ways & Means Committee — Public hearing on the governor’s 2016 supplemental capital budget. WSHA will testify about the importance of mental health.

SB 6171, Senate Government Operations & Security Committee — Concerning civil penalties for knowing attendance by a member of a governing body at a meeting held in violation of the open public meetings act.

Senate Government Operations & Security Committee — Concerning job order contracts by public hospital districts and public hospital district contracts for materials and work. WSHA will testify in favor of allowing public hospital districts to use the same bidding process as other public entities.

Friday, January 15
House Capital Budget Committee — Work session and public hearing on the governor’s proposed 2016 supplemental capital budget. WSHA will testify about the importance of funding for mental health services.


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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