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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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