First Week of the 2016 Legislative Session

First week of session write-up (January 11th – 15th)

The 2016 legislative session is right around the corner, convening Monday, January 11th. Your WSMA legislative team is already hard at work, advocating for issues that are important to the physicians and physician assistants of Washington State.

If you would like to contact your legislator or the sponsor of these bills, please let up help you! You can identify your legislator and reach out to them here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/ by entering your home address.

Please see the information below on bills being heard during the first week of session. As always, feel free to tune into TVW to watch testimony and updates on other key legislative issues going on in Olympia at www.tvw.org. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to Katie Kolan at kak@wsma.org or Trevor Justin at trevor@wsma.org.

 

Credentialing - HB 2335. Health plans can take up to 90 days to credential health care providers, leaving these individuals on the sideline for a quarter of the calendar year, reducing access to patient care and creating administrative burden. This bill would require health plans to credential providers in fifteen days, and would also require these plans to notify providers if they received an incomplete application within five days. This is a key legislative item for WSMA and will be supporting this bill. This bill will be heard on Wednesday, January 13th at 1:30 pm in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Increasing the prescriptive authority for naturopaths – HB 2304. This legislation would allow naturopaths authority to prescribe hydrocodone combinations products contained in Schedule II, as well as all drugs in Schedules III-V. The WSMA opposes any increase in prescriptive authority for naturopaths due to inadequate training and education, resulting in risk to patient safety. This bill is scheduled to be heard on Friday, January 15th at 10:00 am in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Associate Physicians – HB 2343. This proposed legislation would create a new health care professional; an ‘associate physician’ who would work under the license of a physician. This profession would be for medical school graduates who were not able to be matched into a residency slot after graduating from medical school. While the legislation may be well-meaning (an attempt to address physician shortage in our state) it would likely create more problems than it would solve. The WSMA is working to educate legislators on the possible ramifications of the bill. This bill is scheduled for a hearing on Friday, January 15th at 10:00 am in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Raising the legal smoking age to 21 – HB 2313. This legislation is rather self-explanatory, and raises the minimum legal smoking age to 21 for tobacco and vapor products. WSMA has long-standing policy in support of raising the smoking age, and will be supporting this bill. This bill will be heard on Wednesday, January 13th at 1:30 pm in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Concerning health care provider compensation – HB 2332. This bill would allow certain health care provider compensation exhibits to remain confidential to maintain efficient review and approval of health care plans by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. WSMA supports this legislation. The bill will be heard on Wednesday, January 13th at 1:30 pm in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Independent Review Organizations – HB 2326. This legislation would transfer regulatory authority over Independent Review Organizations – which resolve insurance coverage disputes – from the Department of Health to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. WSMA supports this legislation. This bill will be heard on Tuesday, January 12th at 9:00 am in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Concerning the Washington State Health Insurance Pool – HB 2340. This legislation looks to eliminate the 2017 sunset date for the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (high-risk pool) and opens WSHIP to anyone ineligible to purchase a health plan through the exchange. WSMA supports this legislation. This bill will be scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, January 13th at 1:30 pm in the House Health Care & Wellness committee.

In addition to the bills mentioned above, the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday the 13that 3:30 pm. The Senate Ways & Means Committee will also be hearing the Governor’s proposed budget on Monday the 11th at 3:30 pm. On Tuesday the 12th at 3:30, Ways & Means will be hearing an update on mental health issues, including a Western State Hospital update.

There will also be a presentation by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday the 12th at 10:00am. They will give their final report on the Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act Sunset Review. WSMA supports extending the sunset on the Qui Tam provisions out to 2023. This will not be a bill hearing, but something to monitor nonetheless.

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