Wellness Trust – HB 1946

February 9, 2015

HB 1946, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, would tax hospitals at 6 percent of revenue to fund a “Wellness Trust.” The trust would be used to fund local public health departments and mental health services. This tax would be levied on revenue less charity care and community benefit spending. WSHA is strongly opposed to a new tax on hospitals to fund government services for public and mental health. The bill also fails to take into consideration the nearly $5 billion in cuts that hospitals are taking through the Affordable Care Act.

While hospitals and health systems often work with their local public health departments in successful partnership, hospitals cannot be the funding source for public health activities or mental health services.

This bill is being heard on Wednesday in House Health Care & Wellness.

If your hospital is represented by a Representative on the House Health Care Committee, we will be asking you to contact him or her in opposition to this bill. (Andrew Busz, 206/-216-2533)

Medical Liens

If someone is the victim of an accident or other wrongful act, their health insurance company will usually not pay for medical services once it is determined that another party will ultimately be liable. Because of this non-payment, current law allows hospitals and providers, such as doctors, to file a lien against the future personal injury settlement.

would require hospitals and other providers to be licensed debt collectors in order to collect on a lien. The bill also requires providers to give notice to patients that liens may be placed on their future settlements and that hospitals remove liens within 20 days of receiving payment. Violation of the 20 day period would be deemed an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Consumer Protection Act. WSHA is working to remove the Consumer Protection Act violation. This bill is being heard on Tuesday in House Judiciary.  (Zosia Stanley, 206/216-2511)

All-Payer Claims Database (APCD)

The All-Payer Claims Database legislation (HB 1437 and SB 5084) provides needed fixes to the program that was created in last year’s legislative session. This legislation would ensure that the APCD includes claims data from all Washington insurers — not just Medicaid and state employees. It would also eliminate the requirement that currently prevents reports if more than 25 percent of the data comes from one insurer.

These improvements will help ensure that the APCD is robust and can provide cost and utilization reports that are inclusive and meaningful. The bill as drafted was a carefully negotiated compromise among all parties. We will be watching the upcoming Senate hearing this week to make sure that the elements important to WSHA are not substantially modified.

Read the APCD Issue Brief here.

The legislation is supported by WSHA and all the other key stakeholders, including the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington Health Alliance, Premera, Regence and the National Federation of Independent Business. It is being heard in Senate Health Care on Tuesday. (Claudia Sanders, 206/216-2508)

Bills on the Tracker

As we get closer to the cut-off date for bills to get moved out of their original committees, bills that have already been heard are getting moved into executive session or have passed the committee and are now waiting floor action. Here is a quick rundown of some hot ones to follow, including WSHA’s position on each:

Bills that have moved out of committee:
Support SB 5175/HB 1403: Telemedicine (Passed both Health Care Committees this week)
Support HB 1340:  Workforce Flexibility
Support HB 1437: All-Payer Claims Database
Support SB 5460: Distribute Prepackaged Emergency Medications (Health Care)

Bills still in their original committee:
Oppose HB 1173: Non-Compete Agreements (House Health Care)
Concerns/Amend HB 1186: Observation Status (House Health Care)
Oppose HB 1733: Nurse Staffing Ratios (House Health Care)
Oppose HB 1732: Nurse Staffing, On-Call and Rest Breaks (House Labor)
Oppose SB 5644: Reinstituting Psychiatric Boarding (Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing)
Support HB 1402: Distribute Prepackaged Emergency Medications (Health Care) (companion to Senate bill which has passed committee)
Support SB 5645: Mental Health Data Reporting Bill (Senate Human Services and Mental Health & Housing)
Oppose SB 5453: Extended Stay Facilities (Senate Health Care)
Support SB 5593: Guarding and Payment for Inmates and Suspects

WSHA Legislative Testimony: February 9-13 

WSHA is planning to testify on the following bills:

Monday, February 9
SB 5590: Payments by Medicaid Managed Care Plans (Senate Health Care). Allows plans to pay the Medicaid rate in the absence of a contract only if they have offered a contract to the provider. (Andrew Busz, 206/-216-2533)

Tuesday, February 10
HB 1503: Medical Liens (House Judiciary). See article above. (Zosia Stanley, 206/216-2511)

SB 5287: Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act (Senate Health Care). This substitute bill would remove the sunset provision from a significant portion of the Medicaid False Claims Act (FCA). The 2012 FCA contains a 2016 sunset provision and a requirement that the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee report on the effectiveness of the Act. This report is due later this year. Removing the sunset from the FCA would mean there would be no study or report on the effectiveness of the FCA. WSHA opposes removing the sunset and urges legislators to allow the study to be completed before any further steps are taken. (Zosia Stanley, 206/216-2511)

Wednesday, February 11

HB 1504: Charity Care Determinations (House Health Care & Wellness). This bill would create a standardized charity care application form and also create standards regarding how and when patients are notified about the availability of charity care. WSHA supports the concept of the bill and is working with the sponsor of the bill to make some important changes. (Zosia Stanley, 206/216-2511)

HB 1890: Second-Party Payments for Patients (House Health Care & Wellness). Clarifies that payments paid to a fund to provide premium support to low income enrollees are allowable if the patient has control over choice of plans and providers. WSHA supports this bill.  (Andrew Busz, 206/-216-2533)

HB 1946: Hospital-Funded Wellness Trust (House Health Care & Wellness). See article above. WSHA and member hospitals will testify in opposition. (Andrew Busz, 206/-216-2533)

HB 1669: Continuity of Health Coverage and Care (House Health Care & Wellness).  Creates a taskforce to make recommendations on easing financial and eligibility barriers to insurance coverage. The bill also directs the Office of Financial Management study the affordability and availability of health care coverage. (Zosia Stanley, 206/216-2511)

SB 5010: Health Professional Loan Repayment (Senate Ways and Means). Restores funds to the health professional loan repayment and scholarship program fund.  WSHA is part of a broad coalition supporting. (Ian Corbridge, 206/216-2514)
Thursday, February 12

SB 5557: Services Provided by Pharmacists (Senate Health Care). Directs health plans to cover services performed by a licensed pharmacist if: 1) the service is within their scope of practice and 2) the benefit would have been covered had it been performed by another practitioner. (Ian Corbridge, 206/216-2514)

Thank you for last week! 

Last week (February 2-6) was a huge week for health care bills. (Read last week’s Inside Olympia for a run-down of the issues.)

We are very thankful for everyone who came down to testify! Your testimony is essential for helping legislators and the public to understand the real impact of proposed legislation. The following people testified last week:

  • Glenn Adams, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy, Confluence Health
  • Kathryn Beattie, MD, SVP & Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine/Valley Medical Center
  • Margo Bykonen, RN, MN, NE-BC, Nurse Executive Swedish First Hill
  • Gladys Campbell, MSN, RN, FAAN, Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives
  • Jody Carona, Principal, Health Facilities Planning & Development
  • Melissa Cate, RN, MN, MBA, System Administrator Director of Operations, Swedish Medical Center
  • Joan Ching, RN, MN, Administrative Director Hospital Quality & Safety, Virginia Mason Medical Center
  • Kathleen Clary, R.N., MultiCare Health System
  • Laureen Driscoll, MBA, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Nurse Executive, Swedish Cherry Hill
  • Jonathan Duarte, Director of Strategy, Overlake Medical Center
  • Jeannie Eylar, RN, Chief Clinical Officer, Pullman Regional Hospital
  • Joyce Jackson, MHA, President & CEO, Northwest Kidney Centers
  • Harold Kelly, President & CEO, Puget Sound Kidney Centers
  • Lisa Melchiorre, Director, St. Joseph Medical Center
  • Terri Rambosek, JD, Vice President, Legal Services and Regional General Counsel Catholic Health Initiatives
  • Sarah Schwen, RN, Staff Nurse, Virginia Mason Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Wheeler, M.D., MultiCare Health System


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