5 Things Washington: Prefiled bills, Safe staffing, Detailed Agenda
We are excited to announce that we recently opened up registration for the 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference. The event is coming up on February 17 and will be fully virtual, allowing attendees from across the country to participate!
This conference will feature conversations on federal health policy, innovations in the state-federal relationship, and learning labs for state-level successes. We’ll release our Topical Agenda for the event next week, but if you already know that you want to join us, you can register here.
State of Reform
1. Unions push for safe staffing legislation
This week, a coalition of health care workers announced a campaign to push state lawmakers to pass safe staffing legislation during the 2022 session. The campaign, called WA Safe + Healthy, was created by a group encompassing the Washington State Nurses Association, UFCW 21, and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, which collectively represent 71,000 health care workers in the state.
While details on the proposed legislation haven’t been released, the campaign is calling on lawmakers to pass safe staffing standards to avoid “dangerously high patient loads and create adequate enforcement to ensure hospitals follow them.” It also calls on legislators to enforce existing overtime, meal, and rest break laws, and invest in workforce development to increase the number of health care workers entering the field. Organizers anticipate filing legislation before the upcoming session.
2. Lawmakers prefile series of health-related bills
Lawmakers have prefiled several pieces of health-related legislation this month ahead of the 2022 session. Among the list of bills is SB 5532, which would establish a prescription drug affordability board, HB 1601, which would expand the students experiencing homelessness and foster youth pilot program, and HB 1621, which would encourage sexual assault nurse examiner training.
Rep. Peter Abbarno has also prefiled a handful of bills that would make changes to the Long-Term Care Trust Act, including the establishment of exemptions for recent graduates and authorization of benefits for certain workers who live out-of-state. Sen. Jim Honeyford has proposed a bill that would exempt fentanyl testing equipment from being defined as drug paraphernalia.
3. ICYMI: Detailed Agenda now posted
In case you missed it, last week we released our Detailed Agenda for the 2022 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference. We’ve got a very strong lineup of over 70 speakers that we are excited to bring together on January 6th for one of the largest, most diverse convenings of senior health care executives and policy leaders in the state.
Be sure to check out the Topical Agenda to get a feel for the day, and take a look at our Convening Panel to see some of the folks who helped put the agenda together. We’re just three weeks away from the conference, so if you haven’t yet registered to be with us, we’d be honored to have you join us!
4. Report details disparities in WA health system
A recent study from the Commonwealth Fund details the health disparities seen among Washington’s Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. The study evaluated data on 24 different health indicators and established rankings based on health outcomes, health care access, and quality of services.
Nationally, Washington’s health care system ranked in the 48th percentile for Black individuals (4% of the state population), the 52nd percentile for the Latinx/Hispanic population (13% of the population), and the 21st percentile for American Indian/Alaska Native groups (1% of the population). The health system ranked significantly higher for white individuals, who ranked in the 86th percentile.
5. WA stands out among state-run dually eligible demonstrations
Creating a consolidated system of care for dual eligibles would have a “substantial” payoff, writes State of Reform Columnist Jim Capretta, but reaching consensus on how to streamline the two public health insurance programs has proven to be a challenge. In his most recent piece, Capretta explains several state approaches to managing dual eligible care that policymakers can learn from when crafting a national solution.
CMS has released independent evaluations for four state demonstrations in recent months, including Washington’s Managed Fee-for-Service program. Of the four evaluations, Washington’s is the only program that implemented a health home model using fee-for-service rather than capitated payments, and it’s the only one that has delivered consistent savings. “The most recent evaluation estimates cumulative savings of $293 million in Medicare over six years,” writes Capretta.