Weekly Report for April 2, 2015 – Budget Battles

April 2, 2015

We have now seen two very different state budgets—the House released its proposed budget on Friday, and the Senate released theirs on Tuesday.

Immediately after the documents were posted online, WSHA staff got busy doing what they do best: digging into the complex and sometimes confusing documents to see what’s really going on behind the tidy statements of the press releases. What’s happening with revenues? Is Peter being robbed to pay Paul, or is it really going to Tom, Dick and Harry? Or is Peter being robbed to pay… Peter?

There can be a lot of digging, of course, and the documents don’t always tell the whole story. That’s why it’s been our goal to get you a first-day report of the budget issues that affect hospitals and health care, and then keep working until we can be sure that you, our members, have what you need to know.

Read the report on the House budget, the Senate budget, and the budget comparison chart.

We know that legislators are expressing the deep desire to conclude session on time, but there are a lot of miles to travel in the next 24 days. These two budgets are significantly far apart, with the House adding $1.4 billion in new revenue and the Senate relying more on program cuts, economic growth and fund transfers to balance the budget.

One of the more significant pieces of news to come out of the Senate budget is changes to the Hospital Safety Net Assessment. The program is currently scheduled to phase out over time starting in the next biennium, but the Senate budget actually increases the per-day assessment so that the program increases rather than decreases, to the state’s benefit. While the net funding for the hospitals may be the same in both budgets, the changed program may not meet our Board request to have the benefits shared equally between the state and the hospitals.

WSHA is working to clarify the details of the Senate’s plan, and we will keep our Board and our members informed of what we learn.

Stay focused,

Scott Bond
WSHA President and CEO



Virginia Mason CEO Co-Chairs National Panel on Patient Safety


Virginia Mason Chairman and CEO Gary Kaplan, MD, is co-chair of the Safer Healthcare Through Transparency initiative, which released a report focusing on “the free, uninhibited flow of information that is open to the scrutiny of others,” and calls for sweeping action within and across organizations, between clinicians and patients, and in public reporting.

Dr. Kaplan is a member of the National Patient Safety Foundation’s (NPSF) Lucian Leape Institute, which advocates for a greater availability of health care information to improve patient safety.

More information regarding this report and the role of transparency in healthcare according to the NPSF can be found in this news release.

More than three dozen recommendations are outlined in the report addressing issues such as disclosure of conflicts of interest, shared decision making with patients, and development of core competencies for communicating about medical errors and quality measures to patients, families, other medical professionals, and the public.

WSHA has made patient safety part of its body of work since 2005. Our collaborative approach to the work has brought national attention to Washington State.

www.WAHospitalQuality.org is published by WSHA to give quantifiable, understandable quality data to the public.

For more information, visit the Quality & Safety webpage. (Ed Boyle)

Senate Budget: Hospital Safety Net Assessment Program Problematic; Concerns About Mental Health Funding

The Washington State Senate released its budget proposal Tuesday. One of the biggest pieces of news out of the Senate budget is the treatment of Hospital Safety Net Assessment funds.

The assessment is levied on hospitals and used to leverage federal dollars to help pay for services provided to Medicaid patients. The program was designed to allow both the state and hospitals to benefit from increased revenues. Given our past experience with this program where the legislature raided the assessment funds, WSHA is working to clarify the details of the Senate’s plan but believes it does not meet our Board request to have the benefits shared equally between the state and the hospitals. We will provide more details to members as soon as they become available.Read the entire article here at Inside Olympia. (Claudia Sanders)

WSHA Delegation to American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Meeting

Each spring, WSHA staff lead a delegation of senior hospital and health system executives and board members to the AHA Annual Meeting. The group holds a private briefing on national health care policy issues and visits with members of Washington’s congressional delegation on Capitol Hill.

This year, the trip is planned for May 3-6.

Going to D.C. is a great way to help our state delegation stay connected to their communities. Face-to-face visits helps members and their staff better understand how federal policy affects local health care. The issues that we are most focused on this year are:

  • Preserving the 340B drug discount program;
  • Advocacy on key mental health issues, including enacting a permanent fix to draw down federal funds for freestanding psychiatric facilities;
  • Expanding the Graduate Medical Education;
  • Rejecting site neutral payment policies;
  • 96-hour rule fix; and
  • Highlighting all of the great work hospital have done to improve care and patient safety.

If you would like to learn more about WSHA’s federal policy agenda or the D.C. trip, please let us know! (Chelene Whiteaker, Cassie Sauer)

Prepare for the Unexpected! Washington Ready!! Conference May 27-28

Join us May 27-28 at The Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel and Convention Center for the Washington Ready! Conference, designed to help increase knowledge and capability for those called on to respond to an event that creates mass disruptions – how to prepare, implement responses more effectively and safely, plan for recovery, etc.

The Conference is open to individuals from hospitals, local public health organizations, community clinics, physicians and nurses, tribal nation members and EMS and emergency management. Space is limited to register soon!

Visit here for more information, as well as the program details and agenda. (Cynthia Hay)


Don’t get caught short on your staffing needs!

Washington Hospital Services provides WSHA Members with FREE access to the Washington State Registry Program. Since its inception, this program has helped fill more than 5,710 vital contract and per-diem shifts for Washington State hospitals. More than 23 Washington State facilities already participate in the program for easy, efficient and compliant access to high quality temporary nurses, PT, OT, Rad techs, etc. To take advantage of this important WSHA Member Benefit and ensure uninterrupted patient care, simply contact Diane Adams at (609) 240-5006.

Industry Partner Spotlight: Western Healthcare Insurance Trust

Western Healthcare Insurance Trust (WHIT) is a group insurance arrangement (GIA) that provides benefits to employees of hospital and other healthcare related employees in the states of: AK, ID, OR, WA. The Trust was established in 1977 to provide unique and preferred employee benefit programs that participating employers may not be able to access on their own. The Trust is controlled by the Board of Trustees, all of which are from participating WHIT employers. WHIT currently provides one or more coverage lines to over 100 participating employers. For more information contact Holly Wischler, Account Manager, Benefit Solutions at (206) 859-2674.

CEO and Trustee Patient Safety Summit Dates Coming Soon

Stay tuned for more information regarding this summit, set to happen in late spring. This annual one-day event brings CEOs together with their boards and their CMOs to jointly focus on improving patient safety and quality in Washington’s hospitals and health systems. The educational agenda highlights best practices and collaborative examples from industry leaders and peers.

Video Killed the Radio Star

Our video webpage is a hit! It features many important videos to explain our work, including the Big Blue H video, Safe Deliveries Roadmap, Executive Rounding, Innovations in Rural Health Care, and many others.

These videos are a great way to educate members, patients and the health care community about their health choices, and the work WSHA does providing quality and transparency. (Lilia Drain)


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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