Published 2/14/2018 

WSMA Leadership Development Conference is around the corner—reserve your spot today

No matter what your role or where you are in your career journey, WSMA’s annual leadership conference is for you. Held May 18-19 in Chelan, this continuing education event is one of our most popular gatherings, combining top-quality programming with a spectacular resort setting—allowing attendees to maximize their learning in a relaxed environment.

Jason Hwang, MD, MBA, an internal medicine physician with deep expertise in health care innovation, will present this year’s Thomas J. Curry Leadership Keynote Address. Dr. Hwang, co-author of “The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care,” will illuminate new insights, ideas and opportunities that are within reach of every practitioner and that can lead to a better, more sustainable health care system. Formerly the executive director of health care research at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Dr. Hwang now works as an investor in companies that put disruptive health care ideas into action.

Dr. Hwang’s presentation kicks off an outstanding curriculum for this 1 ½ day conference, which features a mix of plenary and interactive sessions designed to enhance participants’ leadership skills. The conference is geared toward physicians, physician assistants and administrators of all stripes: whether a seasoned leader or up and coming; whether serving in a less formal role or just wishing to cultivate resilience and improve efficiency. It is a great event for individuals as well as groups and physician-administrator teams.

You will have time to spend with your family, play golf, tour some of our state’s finest wineries and relax. Find out for yourself why WSMA's Leadership Development Conference is our best-reviewed and most highly regarded event. This conference is likely to fill up, so register to attend the conference today. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Special thanks to our corporate partners Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company, Premera Blue Cross, First Choice Health, Hall Render and Kaiser Permanente Washington.

Book your accommodations for the Leadership Development Conference soon! A limited number of rooms at the WSMA discounted rate are available at Campbell's Resort—the deadline to receive the discount is April 18. Call the resort directly and ask to reserve at the special rates (800.553.8225).

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Update on WSMA priority bills as legislative session passes halfway point

We’re at week six of the state legislative session, which means we’ve crested the peak of the short 60-day session, and the (scheduled) end—March 8—is in sight. Several crucial deadlines in the life of a bill have passed, meaning we have a better idea of what legislation will continue forward and which proposals are dead (for now).

The following is an update on the bills the WSMA identified as benefitting most from the support of our members when meeting with their legislators at this year’s Legislative Summit. For bill language, go to the Washington State Legislature bill information page.

Balance billing (HB 2114 – WSMA opposes). This legislation looks to solve the issue of balance billing, but as proposed would diminish incentives to contract for insurance carriers and fail to ensure fair reimbursement to physicians for the services they provide. HB 2114 was approved by the House and moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The opioid crisis: Governor’s omnibus opioid bill (HB 2489 / SB 6150 – WSMA supports). These bills would increase medication-assisted treatment, increase Medicaid funding to treat opioid addiction and treatment, and integrate the prescription monitoring program with electronic health records, among other provisions. HB 2489 was approved by the House with a unanimous vote and moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The opioid crisis: Attorney general’s pill limit bill (HB 2272 / SB 6050 – WSMA opposes). This bill would have limited first-time opiate prescriptions to a seven-day supply for those 21 and older, and a three-day supply for patients under 21, among other provisions. Both bills are dead.

The opioid crisis: Attorney general’s PMP mandated check bill (HB 2325 / SB 6028 – WSMA opposes). This legislation would have required a practitioner to review a patient’s controlled substance history in the prescription monitoring program before issuing prescription opioids. Both bills are dead.

The opioid crisis: Drug take back (HB 1047 – WSMA supports). This legislation would create a statewide system for safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications. HB 1047 passed the House with an 86-12 bipartisan vote and moves to the Senate for further consideration.

Tobacco 21 (HB 1054 / SB 6048 – WSMA supports). This bill would raise the purchasing age for tobacco and vapor products to 21 years old. The House bill is in the House Rules Committee; the Senate bill is in Senate Ways & Means.

Whistleblower / Peer review protections (HB 2258 / SB 5998 – WSMA supports). This legislation, introduced by the WSMA, would promote patient safety by providing protections for employed and non-employed physician whistleblowers and clarifies requirements for proper peer review. SB 5998 was approved unanimously by the Senate and moves to the House for further consideration.

Rx affordability: Continuity of care (HB 2310 / SB 6147 – WSMA supports). This bill would lock carriers’ drug formularies in for a benefit year (with certain exemptions). SB 6147 was approved by the Senate and moves to the House for further consideration.

Rx affordability: Drug price transparency (HB 1541 / SB 5401 & SB 5586 – WSMA supports). This bill would instruct the state to select a data organization to collect, verify and summarize prescription drug pricing information and report this information to the legislature. HB 1541 was approved by the House and moves to the Senate for further consideration.

For a more comprehensive look at winning and losing legislation in Olympia thus far, visit the Capitol Report news page on the WSMA’s Legislative Action Center. Note that today (Feb. 14) is the last day to pass bills in house of origin—check that same page after Friday for the next status update on bills the WSMA is tracking.

Many thanks to the members who took time out of their busy schedules to come to the Summit and support our advocacy on behalf of these issues. Read more about the Summit later in this Membership Memo. Mark your calendars—the 2019 WSMA Legislative Summit is scheduled for Feb. 7 at the Capitol.

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Mark your calendar: Session wrap-up webinar, Wednesday, March 21 at noon

Join the WSMA for a free lunchtime webinar on Wednesday, March 21, for an overview of the outcome of the 2018 state legislative session and what it means for your practice and the profession. Our legislative team will provide an entertaining and informative look at new legislation impacting the house of medicine, as well as bad bills the WSMA helped (with your support) to defeat. Registration will be available soon—for now, save the date.

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Physicians make House (and Senate) calls in Olympia

More than 130 physicians, physician assistants and practice staff, many dressed in their white coats, convened at the Capitol for the WSMA Legislative Summit on Wednesday, Jan. 31 to meet with their legislators and discuss how lawmaking impacts medicine. With this impressive turnout, when it came time for our members to meet with lawmakers, 34 out of 49 legislative districts were represented—meaning lawmakers from throughout the state heard our advocacy message. For a full recap of the Summit, visit the Capitol Report news page on the WSMA’s Legislative Action Center and keep an eye out for the March/April issue of WSMA Reports. We know your time is valuable, so plan today to attend next year's event—the 2019 WSMA Legislative Summit is scheduled for Feb. 7 at the Capitol. Mark your calendars today.

Photo: WSMA members on the Capitol steps at the 2018 Legislative Summit. Photo credit: Andrea Peer.

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

WSMA leadership meets with Washington’s congressional delegation

WSMA President Donna Smith, MD and WSMA President-elect Thomas Schaaf, MD, along with WSMA staff traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with our congressional delegation to discuss health care policy and WSMA legislative priorities. Among the WSMA priorities discussed: ending the opioid epidemic; supporting health insurance market stability; controlling the rising cost of prescription drugs; and funding for important health programs, such as community health centers, teaching health center graduate medical education programs and public health. For greater detail on these issues and related federal legislation, visit the Capitol Report news page on the WSMA’s Legislative Action Center. For questions on our federal advocacy, contact Tierney Edwards, JD, at 206.956.3657 or

Photo: Jennifer Hanscom; Sheila Rege, MD; Tom Schaaf, MD; Sen. Maria Cantwell; Donna Smith, MD; Ray Hsiao, MD and Tierney Edwards, JD in Washington, D.C. 

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Wrongful death legislation moves forward despite strong opposition

SB 6015 has passed out of the Senate, despite opposition from a large coalition of health care and business industry leaders concerned about the unintended consequences of this dangerous legislation, as well as the many calls from WSMA members responding to our calls to action. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.

The WSMA will continue to oppose this legislation, which, if passed, would increase the frequency of wrongful death claims, increase tort payouts, raise your premiums and upset the balance within the medical malpractice insurance market established through decades of case law and established statute. Visit the WSMA Legislative Action Center to learn more about the legislation and keep an eye out for further calls to action on this issue.

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Washington Health Alliance report measures low-value services

The Washington Health Alliance has released a new report indicating that, of 1.52 million health care services it analyzed from July 2015 to June 2016, 45.7 percent were unnecessary and wasteful according to recommendations from the Choosing Wisely® campaign. The Washington Health Alliance report, “First, Do No Harm,” looked at claims data for 2.4 million commercially insured lives in Washington state, and found that 11 services out of 47 commonly overused services selected for the study accounted for 93 percent of the low-value services (those included imaging for eye disease, prescribing antibiotics for ear infections, cardiac stress testing and others).

As WSMA CEO Jennifer Hanscom noted in her recent bi-weekly newsletter, while the Alliance report is a “headline grabber in the daily news,” overutilization “isn’t news to the physician community.” Since the WSMA introduced the national Choosing Wisely initiative to Washington state in 2012, we have worked closely with the Alliance and the Washington State Hospital Association to reduce overuse and low-value care. As Jennifer notes, those efforts are showing progress—see her Weekly Rounds newsletter for just two examples of health systems successfully reducing unnecessary care.

The Choosing Wisely initiative continues to evolve and expand in Washington state. Learn more and find out how you can help reduce unnecessary utilization by visiting

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Impressive results from Honoring Choices® Pacific Northwest’s initial phase

After more than a year of establishing advance care planning systems within institutions, the joint WSMA and Washington State Hospital Association initiative Honoring Choices® Pacific Northwest is inspired by the progress health care organizations have made toward discussing, recording and honoring patients’ wishes. This foundational phase concentrated on building a sustainable infrastructure to support advance care planning conversations and to lay the groundwork for future, accelerated expansion.

Commitment and investment has led to impressive results for the initiative’s beginning:

  • Over 2,000 individual- and group-facilitated First Steps® conversations occurred.
  • Health care agents or surrogate decision-makers were at 57 percent of those conversations.
  • 85 percent of organizations established an “ACP dashboard” to better store and retrieve advance care planning documents.
  • Early adopters saw a 42 percent increase in completed advance directives over the state baseline when individuals participate in a facilitated conversation.

For Honoring Choices PNW’s next phase, the initiative will partner with community groups and expand into community settings for greater education, outreach and advance care planning. These efforts, coupled with the tremendous ongoing work by hospitals and medical groups, will ensure Honoring Choices PNW’s vision—that everyone in the region receives care that honors personal values and goals at the end of life—can be realized. Learn more about the initiative at For more information, please contact Bonnie Bizzell at

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

TRICARE transition to Health Net—tips for physician practices

Health Net Federal Services has taken over as the contractor for the TRICARE West region; see background details. Note that patients can see providers through March 31 without point of service charges, which should address care provided by providers who are not yet contracted with Health Net.

This transition is expected to continue through March 31. At this time, Health Net is experiencing backlogs both in contracting and in processing referrals and authorizations. Referral and authorization processes are taking on average three to seven days, further complicated by duplicate requests being submitted by providers.

To speed up the referral and authorization process, physician practices can register and create an account to use Health Net’s online tools. These tools will allow practices to submit requests electronically and to also track those requests, thereby reducing the influx of duplicate submissions. If your practice submits those requests on paper, the processing time will be significantly longer as Health Net staff must manually enter those into their system for processing.

Should your practice experience additional problems, call Health Net customer service at 844.866.9378. the WSMA has been working closely with Health Net’s leadership to address these transition issues. For other questions, contact Michelle Lott at the WSMA at

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

State postpones review period for all-payer claims database

The state’s all-payer claims database, Washington Healthcare Compare, has postponed its claims data review period until further notice. WA-APCD staff advised it had decided to postpone the opening of the review portal, previously scheduled for mid-January, to provide more time to ensure the security of personal health information in the portal. Primary care physicians and practices should take this unexpected delay to prepare for the eventual data review, if they haven’t already.

Once the rescheduled review period is announced, medical practices comprised of four or more primary care practitioners should plan to use the opportunity to assess the WA-APCD-generated quality ratings to confirm their accuracy and report any errors. In turn, any corrections are incorporated before the public release in early spring. To learn more about this review process, visit the WA-APCD website and be sure to review WSMA’s free OnDemand webinar.

Washington Healthcare Compare will report medical practice quality as “better,” “average” or “worse” across a relative scale that compares performance across all practices statewide. WA-APCD staff noted this is the same nomenclature used by the Washington Health Alliance’s “Community Check-up Report.” The WSMA has recommended to the WA-APCD that they consider changing their terminology to “above average,” “average” and “below average,” as being less pejorative.

Published 2/14/2018

Published 2/14/2018 

Washington Physicians' Guide to Health Law can help with common legal questions

Have a question about providing care to minors? How to store medical records—or how to close a practice? As a benefit of membership, WSMA members have free, unlimited access to WSMA’s online Washington Physicians’ Guide to Health Law, a summary of many of the laws commonly encountered in a medical practice. This free member benefit—valued at $350—is mobile-friendly, and features a user-friendly layout, index and search function. Annual subscriptions may be purchased by non-members. Access the guide from the WSMA website.

Published 2/14/2018