A number of bills have been prefiled ahead of the 2022 Washington State legislative session, including legislation dealing with drug affordability, sexual assault, and the Long-Term Care Trust Act.
While the 2022 session is a short, 60-day affair, there are already dozens of bills filed. While many of them focus on refining existing laws, there are new proposals too.
Sen. Karen Keiser has filed SB 5532, which would establish a prescription drug affordability board. The board would include five members, and be charged with reviewing drug prices and issuing its first annual report by June 2023. It’s also tasked with creating upper payment limits for prescription drugs the board has determined will lead to excess costs.
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If a manufacturer decides to withdraw from Washington after an upper limit is set, the bill would ban that company from selling the withdrawn drug for five years. Further, if the board determines that a prescription drug will result in excess costs for patients, the state must impose a penalty on the increased revenue from the price increase of the drug, equal to 80% of the difference between the revenue generated by the sales within the state and the revenue that would have been generated if the manufacturer had maintained the wholesale cost from the previous year.
It marks a more robust version of a prescription drug affordability board that cleared the legislature, and was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, in 2020 due to the program’s $1 million price tag amid concerns over revenue during the early days of the pandemic. Keiser spoke about both bills in previous coverage.
Reps. Mari Leavitt and Michelle Caldier introduced HB 1601, which proposes expanding a pilot program that assists community and technical college students who were either in the foster system or experiencing homelessness. State of Reform’s sister site, the Washington State Wire, wrote on that bill last week.
The bill would expand the pilot known as the Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness program. It currently has eight colleges participating, including both four-year and two-year institutions, and provides housing, meal, and services support. If approved, all community, technical, and four-year colleges across the state would be able to access the program.
Rep. Gina Mosbrucker introduced HB 1621, which would create programs to encourage sexual assault nurse examiner training. It would create a stipend program to defray out-of-pocket costs for licensed nurses who complete the training necessary to become certified sexual assault nurse examiners. This would include fees, tuition, and other charges for training, along with transportation, lodging, and meal costs, among other fees. The total amount of the stipend could not exceed $2,500.
It would also create a hospital grant program to increase access to certified sexual assault nurse examiners for hospitals that don’t have regular or sufficient access to them.
Finally, Rep. Peter Abbarno has introduced an array of bills dealing with the Long-Term Care Trust Act. The act created a long-term care fund, which is funded by a 58 cent per $100 payroll tax, and is scheduled to begin coming out of paychecks in January. The money will fund a long-term care program which will pay out $36,500 per eligible Washingtonian.
The bill is likely to be modified, as lawmakers from both parties have signaled interest in doing so. But it’s unclear how it will be changed. Abbarno’s bills range from repealing the long-term care act outright, to modifying it and creating exceptions for paying into the program. While repealing it entirely is the preferred position of many Republicans, it seems unlikely the idea will garner enough support among Democratic legislators to pass.