WSHA’s Policy and Budget Priorities for 2017 Legislative Session

January 11, 2017

WSHA is expecting this to be a very challenging legislative session given the state’s budget situation and K-12 education obligations. Below are our policy and budget priorities of particular interest to hospital finance and other finance staff. Click here for a complete listing of WSHA’s policy and budget priorities.

  • Preserve access to health care and health coverage for Washingtonians. The Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchange subsidies provide insurance and access to 750,000 low- and moderate-income working Washingtonians. In the face of possible federal changes, ensure these newly covered people continue to have access to an organized system of health care.
  • Re-enact the Hospital Safety Net Assessment Program. This is an important program for both the state and hospitals. This program uses an assessment on hospitals to produce revenue to supplement Medicaid for safety net hospitals and revenue to support state health care programs. Hospitals and the state should share equally in the benefits.
  • Prevent Medicaid payment cuts for hospital-based outpatient clinics. (The Governor included a proposed cut of $42 million in his recent budget) Hospital-based clinics at off campus locations provide a substantial portion of primary and specialty care to the Medicaid population, and are often the only source of some specialty services. Unlike many free-standing doctor’s offices, they are open to all patients, regardless of sponsorship. In the absence of sustainable payment, patients may need to seek care through emergency departments and actually increase the state’s costs
  • Fund essential services in small rural hospitals as the hospitals transition to new value based payment models. About a dozen rural hospitals with poor financial outlooks are struggling to preserve essential services needed in their communities:  emergency room, primary and long term care.  This proposal would help sustain the emergency room and provide transitional support for enhanced primary care for a three-year period.
  • Fund nursing home care in small rural hospitals. This proposal creates a minimum payment level for four rural nursing homes where the current Medicaid level makes it difficult to continue operation.
  • Fund capital needs for rural health clinics providing dental care.

(Andrew Busz,


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