Weekly Report for June 4, 2015 – New House and Senate Budgets Released: No Big Changes in Hospital Issues

June 4, 2015

Over the last week, we saw two new budget proposals:  the Senate Republicans released a new budget last Thursday, followed by the House Democrats on Monday.

If you’ve never looked at a state budget, it’s an impressive set of documents. As soon as a budget proposal is released, WSHA staff and lobbyists immediately begin a line-item review of our areas of interest to see what is being proposed for spending. We also compare the new numbers with previous budgets to get a sense of what the impact is going to be on our priority programs. And if something doesn’t look right or make sense, we get on the phone with legislative and department analysts to get more information.
And if there’s big news? We share that information with you via Inside Olympia.
Last Thursday evening, we sent out an Inside Olympia with news about the new Senate budget. Although it recognized new revenue from cannabis and the federal government, the budget does not make the needed changes to the Hospital Safety Net Assessment. Fixing the Senate’s version of the assessment is a major priority for us right now. Our goal is to structure a program with the best chance over the long run of being a successful partnership between hospitals and the state, and the Senate version makes changes that imperil that.
The new House budget maintains the Hospital Safety Net Assessment as supported by WSHA. With the increased revenue projections, the House increases funding for mental health services, including an additional $3.4 million for the outpatient services created by HB 1450.

The clock on the second special session is ticking; it is scheduled to last nearly until the end of June. Legislators will continue working to beat that deadline. The next fiscal year starts July 1, and there is a great deal of uncertainty about how state government will function if there is no budget in place.

We are hopeful that legislators will keep negotiating and that the process will result in a version of the hospital assessment that funds Medicaid hospital services and the state general fund in equal measure.

Cassie Sauer
Senior VP Advocacy and Government Affairs

Cascade Medical Staff Train with FEMA

More than 150 actors swarmed the training hospital’s entrance when Cascade Medical Center doctors Jerri Smith and Veronica Goyne stepped off the bus. Some of the actors stumbled toward them, covered in fake blood. Actors portraying frustrated family members fumed at staff and fought with each other.

Before they arrived, Smith and Goyne had been briefed on a hypothetical scenario: A chemical plant exploded next to a football stadium where 20,000 people had gathered for an event. On a typical weekday, the two work together in the business office at Cascade Medical Center. But on that day, their job was to set up a triage center to decontaminate patients before they entered the hospital.

“It was intense,” Smith said. “You have to turn your emotions off and focus on the task at hand. That was the hardest thing for me, to know that it could be your family member or neighbor, but you have put any feelings aside and focus on getting them through decontamination.” Read more about this exciting training on the Cascade Medical Center website.

Across the state, hospitals and health systems are doing amazing work to care for their patients and their communities. Our goal is to feature all of our 100 members at least once through the course of the year. If you are a WSHA member with a story to tell, please contact Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.


Inside Olympia: More Details On Senate Budget

Senate Republicans proposed a new budget last week that includes new revenue expectations including those from anticipated cannabis revenues and increased federal funding.

Hospital Safety Net Assessment: The Senate makes no improvement to its proposal for the assessment, which is an area of intense concern for WSHA and member hospital and health systems. The Senate maintains its proposal to increase the daily assessment amount in order to take more dollars into the state general fund. In total, the Senate proposal increases the amount taken by the state by $47 million more for the state general fund and $20 million more for increased residency slots.

WSHA’s position is that the daily assessment rate needs to be set at reasonable levels; we also have concerns about the Senate proposal being at the federal cap for the program.

Read more about this issue in the most recent edition ofInside Olympia, our publication focusing on legislation, health care and important policy decisions. (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross)

Providing Access to Emergency Medications in Hospital EDs

Effective May 11, 2015, practitioners may prescribe emergency medications (pre-packs) to patients being discharged from an ED when:
  1. Community or outpatient pharmacy services are not available within 15 miles, or
  2. The patient has no reasonable ability to reach a local pharmacy.

These medications can be distributed by a practitioner or a nurse.

WSHA worked hard to draft this bill and shepherd its way through the legislature. This new law comes from section 1 of Senate Bill 5460 and allows the long-standing practice of providing patients emergency medications to continue. WSHA appreciates the Washington State Department of Health’s support for this bill which ensures access to essential emergency medications. (Ian Corbridge)

Webinar: state charity care law and federal 501(r) regulations

WSHA will host a webinar onWednesday, July 1, 2015 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm on hospital financial assistance policies and procedures. The webinar is part of WSHA’s efforts to provide helpful and detailed information to hospital members. Presenters will include Taya Briley and Zosia Stanley from WSHA, Barbara Shickich from Riddell Williams, and David Lawson from Davis Wright Tremaine.

The webinar will include review of Washington state’s charity care law, education on important changes in federal law for 501(c)(3) hospitals, guidance on compliance with both state and federal laws, and discussion of WSHA’s work with members to develop a model charity care application form and model communication plan. This is an important topic for all Washington state hospitals and we encourage attendance. This webcast is intended for WSHA members only.

Please contact Zosia Stanley if interested in attending.

New Role for Swedish Executive

Brian Livingston, M.D., MBA, FACEP, current Vice President of Medical Affairs for Swedish First Hill, has been appointed Chief Executive and Vice President of Medical Affairs for Swedish Ballard, effective June 1, 2015.Dr. Livingston has been an integral member of the Swedish physician leadership team since 2012, serving as Medical Director of Case Management and the Clinical Documentation Integrity Program, Interim Vice President of Operations for the Organ Transplant Program, Physician Advisor to Revenue Cycle, and Vice President of Medical Affairs. He joined Swedish in 2005, practicing in the First Hill Emergency Department. Read more on the Swedish website.

The New Blue H

Hospitals are evolving at a rapid pace to meet the changing needs of their communities. WSHA has created two versions of a video that shows how hospitals and health systems in Washington State are rising to the occasion and moving beyond the traditional image of the blue H. The video explores the role of hospitals to provide preventive care, to improve care quality and to innovate.

Hospitals, physicians, nurses and others join together from across the state to express how their work is changing to the benefit of their patients. This video—at either length—can be featured on your website or can be used by you at any meeting—staff, public or board meetings, for example.

View the full 8-minute video here.
View the compressed 3-minute cut here.

We hope you enjoy this unique look at Washington State hospitals and health systems! (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross)

BESLER Fights Readmissions with Data and Strategy

Washington Hospital Services Industry Partners, BESLER, is helping hospitals reduce readmissions by identifying excess readmissions and their underlying causes. BESLER’s Readmissions AnalyticsSM tool delivers a detailed analysis of readmissions, including information the Quality Net hospital-specific file, used by Medicare to calculate readmission penalties, annual readmissions trends, and identification of related vs. unrelated readmissions.

Users of Readmissions Analytics benefit from a detailed readmissions financial impact report, and consulting time from BESLER’s readmissions experts. This information can be used to minimize long term exposure to hospital readmissions penalties. This short video shows how Readmissions Analytics can help your organization reduce readmissions. If you are interested in learning more please contact Heather Swanson at (720) 272-8755.



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Washington State Hospital Association
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Seattle, WA 98104

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