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2021 WSMA Legislative Priorities

2021 WSMA Legislative Priorities

The Washington State Medical Association is the largest medical professional association in Washington, representing physicians, residents, medical students, and physician assistants from nearly all specialties and practice settings throughout the state. The WSMA is the only professional organization that represents the interests and priorities of all physicians in Washington.

Our Legislative Priorities in 2021

Learn more about these issues by reviewing WSMA's issue briefs.

Medicaid reimbursement

Restore the primary care, pediatric, and behavioral health care Medicaid reimbursement rate adjustments vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2020 due to state budget concerns arising from the pandemic. Restoring the rate adjustment will improve access to care for Washingtonians by expanding physician participation in Medicaid networks at a time when it is desperately needed and long overdue.

Taxes

The physician community acknowledges the state's financial outlook and the WSMA welcomes the opportunity to participate in discussions around budget and revenue. But it must also be acknowledged that physician practices and organizations, like many of our state's businesses, have been hit hard by the pandemic, at once facing decreased patient volumes and increased costs associated with providing care, as well as other pressures such as the recent business and occupation (B&O) tax increase. While we seek to constructively engage in fiscal negotiations we must do so with an eye to the viability of our members, many of whom are in a tenuous position.

Telemedicine

House Bill 1196: Audio-only telemedicine allows patients to receive care over the telephone, advancing the goal of ensuring they get the right care, in the right place, and the right time by improving the opportunity to get healthcare closer to home, in a convenient, timely manner. Insurers are currently required to cover and pay for audio-only services, but action is needed to ensure that patients can continue to receive appropriate care over the phone.

Health equity CME

Senate Bill 5229: Direct the boards and commissions of all health professions licensed under Title 18 RCW to adopt rules establishing a health equity CME requirement at least once every four years to provide health care professionals with tools to care for patients of diverse identities and backgrounds and to be knowledgeable about cultural sensitivities, patterns of disparities, and implicit bias, all of which can impact patient care and health outcomes. While this is not a catch-all solution, it is an important step to promote the progression of health equity for all the residents of our state.

PPE reimbursement

Senate Bill 5169: Require insurance carriers to reimburse for personal protective equipment costs that were increased directly as a result of the pandemic, as physicians are prohibited from billing for PPE by their contracts with health insurers. A necessary step to help spread the increased costs of delivering care and ensuring everyone is paying their fair share.

COVID-19 liability protections

Support Senate Bill 5271: Establishes a clear method for determining the standard of care for health care providers and facilities caring for COVID-19 patients and reflects the realities of this challenging time. Physicians have faced numerous challenges in delivering care during the pandemic, including shortages of supplies and shifting government directives on when and how services can be delivered. The standard of care physicians and health care providers are held to should reflect the practice conditions when care is delivered.

For more information, email Sean Graham at sean@wsma.org.

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