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February 4, 2019

Legislative Session Update: Rx Transparency, Telemedicine, Public Option and More

A brief rundown of priority health care bills heard in committees during week three of the state legislative session and what's in store for this week.

Week three (Jan. 28-Feb. 1) highlights

(HB = House bill; SB = Senate bill)

Drug cost transparency – SB 5251 & SB 5292, concerning prescription drug cost transparency, were both heard in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Monday, Jan. 28. The WSMA supports both bills.

Motorcycle helmets – SB 5007 was heard in the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday, Jan. 28. This bill would exempt adults aged 21 and older from being required to wear a helmet while driving/riding a motorcycle in Washington. The WSMA opposes this bill.

Suicide review teams – HB 1240 was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 29. This bill would create a team of individuals under the Department of Health to review the circumstances of suicide deaths of individuals up to the age of 24. The review team includes, among others, one physician who practices as a child psychiatrist, and another practitioner who is either an ARNP, PA, or DO who works primarily with youth. The WSMA supports this bill. 

Opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services – HB 1331 was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 29, where WSMA’s Katie Kolan, JD, and WSMA Vice President Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, were joined by the Washington State Medical Group Management Association’s Jay Priebe in testifying in opposition to the legislation. Thank you to Dr. Schlicher and Mr. Priebe for again joining the WSMA in Olympia to testify on this issue. 

Telemedicine – SB 5385SB 5386, and SB 5387 were all heard in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30. SB 5385 concerns telemedicine payment parity and SB 5387 concerns physician credentialing in telemedicine services. WSMA’s Katie Kolan testified in support of both bills. SB 5386 would create training standards and mandatory education for physicians providing telemedicine services. WSMA’s Katie Kolan testified on this bill with concerns. 

Increasing individual market health coverage options – HB 1523, the “public option” proposal, was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30. WSMA’s Sean Graham testified with concerns on this legislation, opposing the Medicare rate setting component for care provided in the plan, but also expressing support for the standard plan design component of the bill.

Increasing access to fruits and vegetables – HB 1587 was heard in the House Human Services & Early Learning Committee. This bill would increase access to fruits and vegetables for individuals with limited incomes. The WSMA supports this legislation.

Maternal mortality review – SB 5425 and HB 1369, extending and expanding the state’s maternal mortality review panel, were heard in their respective health care committees on Feb. 1. The WSMA supports both bills. 

What to expect this week (Feb. 4-8)

Priority work sessions and legislative hearings will be held on:

Guardianship pilot program - SB 5114 concerns the creation of a guardianship pilot program for persons who are gravely disabled to provide them individualized treatment, supervision, and appropriate placement to support successful transition to the community. This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Monday, Feb 4.

Balance billing – SB 5031 and SB 5699 are both scheduled for public hearings in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Monday, Feb 4. The WSMA will testify to the amendments we are seeking to SB 5031 (the OIC request legislation), which are reflected in SB 5699.

Tobacco 21 – SJM 8008 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Monday, Feb. 4. This Senate Joint Memorial from Washington state would urge the federal government to raise the legal age for the sale, consumption, and use of tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21.

Medical debt collection – HB 1531 concerning medical debt is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The WSMA opposes elements pertaining to limitations on interest and wage garnishment.

Drug cost transparency – HB 1224 concerning prescription drug cost transparency, similar to SB 5292, is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The WSMA supports this bill.

Physician assistant practice reform – SB 5411 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Friday, Feb. 8. This bill makes several changes to PA practice. The WSMA is neutral on this bill

Vaccinations – HB 1638, promoting immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases, is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Friday, Feb. 8. The WSMA supports this bill. 

Foundational Public Health Services – HB 1497 and SB 5732 define a core set of FPHS, including: control of communicable disease; chronic disease and injury prevention; environmental public health; maternal, child, and family health; behavioral health; vital records; and “cross-cutting capabilities.” HB 1497 is scheduled or a public hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Friday, Feb. 8. The WSMA supports this bill. 

Bill introductions

Additional legislation that has been introduced during the week of Jan. 28 – Feb. 1. 

Fee setting – HB 1753 was introduced on Jan. 30. This bill would require a statement of inquiry (CR-101) for rules affecting fees related to health professions. This would bring fee-setting into alignment with all other rulemaking requirement timelines. Presently, all that is required to raise a fee is release of a CR-102 and subsequent adoption. All other rulemaking efforts require CR101, CR102, and adoption. Requirement of a CR101 would require notice of intent to raise fees and an opportunity to comment.

Practice of naturopathy – HB 1630 was introduced on Friday, Jan. 25 and its companion, SB 5752, was introduced Wednesday, Jan. 30. The WSMA opposes both bills. These bills would grant naturopaths prescriptive authority for Schedules III through V of the uniform controlled substances act. Both bills would require naturopaths who prescribe controlled substances to register with the DOH to access the PMP. The bills both stipulate that the Board of Naturopathy shall establish education and training requirements for prescribing by rule, which must be completed by naturopaths prior to prescribing. The bills would also allow naturopaths to sign and attest to any certificates, cards, forms, or other documents that a physician may sign, so long as it is within the naturopath’s scope (including death certificates and disability determinations). The bills would expand the list of services that naturopaths may provide pursuant to “minor office procedures.” Finally, the bills would change the designation of license to “naturopathic physician.”

Learn more

For an overview of WSMA's legislative agenda for 2019, see this Membership Memo article. Consider lending your expertise and experience to lawmakers by testifying on a bill or issue you care about. Contact Hailey Hamilton at to learn more.

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