Social and Economic Policy
Health and Behavioral Health

Provide access to affordable health services with quality standards of care, and control total system expenditures for health services.


Issue Team Chair: Kim Abbey, kabbey@lwvwa.org, (206) 387-6134
 DOWNLOAD the Health and Behavioral Health Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 


Bill Tracking

Weekly Reports


Bill Descriptions


Get Involved

Overview

The League of Women Voters of Washington position on health care states that the state must take action to control total system expenditures for health services while maintaining quality standards of care. And to provide universal access to affordable health services with seamless coverage regardless of one’s health status (pre-existing conditions), and regardless of life changes in employment, marital status, financial or health status. And to assure that no one shall be forced into poverty because of medical or long-term needs (1992).

Bill Tracking

Senate Bills Senate House After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
SB 5532 Establishing a prescription drug affordability board Supports x








SB 5688 Acquisition of health care facilities (mergers) Supports x








SB 5518 Concerning the occupational therapy licensure compact Supports x








SB 5546 Concerning insulin affordability Supports
x







SB 5589 Concerning statewide spending on primary care Supports
x








House Bills House Senate After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
HB 1141 Access to death with dignity Supports



x





HB 1616 Concerning the charity care Act Supports x








HB 1622 Increasing the availability of sexual assault nurse examiner education in rural and underserved areas Supports x








HB 1646 The dementia action collaborative to be established Supports x







HB 1854 Hearing instruments for children Supports
x







HB 1860 Preventing homelessness among persons discharging from inpatient behavioral health settings. Supports x







HB 1866 Assisting persons receiving community support services through medical assistance programs to receive supportive housing.  
Supports x








HB 1885 Establishing the profession of dental therapist Supports x








Weekly Reports

These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass. 


Bill Descriptions

HB 1047 Requiring coverage for hearing instruments for children and adolescents. Sponsor: Rep. Emily Wicks
A health carrier offering a health plan issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2023, must include coverage for hearing instruments, including bone conduction hearing devices, for persons who are 18 years of age or younger. Coverage must include the hearing instrument, the initial assessment, fitting, adjustment, auditory training, and ear molds as necessary to maintain optimal fit.

HB 1141 Increasing access to the death with dignity act. Sponsor: Rep. Skyler Rude
Makes changes to the 2009 Death with Dignity Act, mainly changes ‘physician’ to ‘qualified medical provider.’ Hospice care is increasingly provided by advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants, especially in rural areas. Eliminates the 15-day waiting period and reduces it to 72 hours. A contract employer may not prevent a health care provider from participating in Death with Dignity Act of 2009 so long as they act independently and at a location that is not on the hospital facility premises.

HB1610 / SB 5518 Concerning the occupational therapy licensure compact. Sponsor: Rep. Jessica Bateman
The purpose of this compact is to facilitate interstate practice of occupational therapy with the goal of improving public access to occupational therapy services, primarily in rural areas. The compact member states will create and establish a joint public agency known as the occupational therapy compact commission. This bill, if passed, will allow OTs and COTAs (Certified Assistants) to work in other states under their home state license.

HB 1616 Concerning the charity care act. Sponsor: Tarra Simmons
The Department of Health shall monitor the distribution of charity care among hospitals. No hospital shall adopt or maintain practices or policies which would deny access to emergency care based on ability to pay. No hospital which maintains an emergency department shall transfer a patient with an emergency medical condition or who is in active labor unless the transfer is performed at the request of the patient or is due to the limited medical resources of the transferring hospital. Each hospital shall post and prominently display notice of charity care availability. Charity care eligibility is determined by calculating family income based on the federal poverty level: if under 300% of FPL receives 100% discounted health services bill; under 350% receives 75% discount; under 400% FPL receives 50% discount.

HB 1622 Increasing the availability of sexual assault nurse examiner education in rural and underserved areas. Sponsor: Rep. Gina Mosbrucker
The Washington State University college of nursing shall establish a program to increase the availability of qualified sexual assault nurse examiners in eastern Washington. The Washington State University college of nursing shall: Develop and train lead sexual assault nurse examiners; and assist in the development of support mechanisms and role requirements for regional lead sexual assault nurse examiners.

HB 1646 Continuing the work of the dementia action collaborative. Sponsor: Rep. Jessica Bateman
In January 2016, Washington state released State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. The State Plan identifies goals, strategies and recommendations as a blueprint for action. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Jessica Bateman, reestablishing the formal dementia action collaborative to update the state plan and make recommendations. The Department of Health shall convene the dementia action collaborative, with 20 members appointed by the governor. They are tasked with providing any necessary administrative support and submitting all required reports. Meetings of the dementia action collaborative must be open to the public.

SB 5532 / HB 1671 Establishing a prescription drug affordability board. Sponsor: Sen. Karen Keiser
The prescription Drug Affordability board is established, to include five members who have expertise in health care economics or clinical medicine appointed by the governor. Board members shall serve for a term of five years. The board must coordinate and collaborate with the Health Care Authority, other boards, work groups, and commissions related to prescription drug costs and emerging therapies including the Health Care Cost Transparency board and the Universal Health Care commission. The board may choose to conduct an affordability review of any prescription drug with excessive price rises in a 12-month period. The board must establish a methodology for setting upper payment limits for prescription drugs.

SB 5688 Concerning material changes to the operations and governance structure of participants in the health care marketplace. Sponsor: Sen. Emily Randall
The legislature is committed to ensuring that Washingtonians have access to the full range of reproductive, end-of-life, and gender affirming health care services. Health entity mergers, acquisitions, and contracting affiliations must improve rather than harm access to affordable quality health care. The attorney general's authority to determine the effect of a material change transaction (acquisition or merger) on access to care, The parties to the transaction shall submit written notice to the attorney general of such material change transaction 4 months prior to the merger. The impact statement must have an assessment of the effect of the acquisition on emergency services, reproductive health care services, end-of-life health care services, and gender affirming health care services and charity care.

SB 5546 Concerning insulin affordability. Sponsor: Sen. Karen Keiser
The total cost of insulin work group is established. The work group membership must consist of the insurance commissioner or designee and twenty members appointed by the governor, to include representatives of pharmacists, health insurance carriers, patients, pharmacy benefit managers, and others. The work group must review and design strategies to reduce the cost of and total expenditures on insulin in this state. By December 1, 2022, the work group must submit a preliminary report detailing strategies to reduce the cost of and total expenditures on insulin.

SB 5589 Concerning statewide spending on primary care. Sponsor: Sen. June Robinson
The board of health shall submit a preliminary report to the governor and relevant committees of the legislature addressing primary care expenditures in Washington. The report must include the annual progress needed for primary care expenditures to reach 12 percent of total health care expenditures in a reasonable amount of time, and methods to incentivize the achievement of desired levels of primary care expenditures.

(no Bill # yet) Establishing the profession of dental therapist. Sponsor: Rep. Eileen Cody
It is the legislature's intent that dental therapists will meet the needs of local communities as they work under the direction of a licensed Washington dentist. The legislature intends for dental therapists to be incorporated into the dental care workforce and used to effectively treat more patients.

How To Be Involved
  • Local Leagues in Washington have action chairs who coordinate action teams. Some local Leagues have health care teams to take action locally. Contact your local League action chair to find out and join.
  • You may also express your opinion on legislation with the LWVWA issue chairs. We will take your perspectives under considerations as we determine our support for legislation and prepare testimony. Kim Abbey, Health Care and Behavioral Health Issue Chair, kabbey@lwvwa.org.

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