Health care bills in the balance as budget negotiations near deadline

Several health care bills hang in the balance, as the Washington state House and Senate race to finish supplemental budget talks by midnight tonight, the end of the 60-day session. The day’s end will reveal whether these bills will be signed into law or if Gov. Inslee will make good on his promise to veto.

Here are the remaining health care bills that may be signed into law or put on Inslee’s chopping block:

SB 5778 by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, tackles the state’s supervision of ambulatory surgical facilities, which provide outpatient surgical services with the patient spending less than 24 hours at the facility.

The bill mandates that the Washington Department of Health (DOH) may not increase licensing and ownership fees until July 1, 2018. DOH cannot survey such a facility more than once every 18 months. If such facilities are accredited by other, appropriate associations, the state survey will be every three years if the accreditation occurs within 18 months of a state survey.

DOH must also conduct a benchmark survey to compare Washington’s system for licensing these facilities with the procedures for other states. This must include a review of licensing standards, staffing levels, training of surveyors and inspectors, and expenditures of the selected states. Survey findings must be reported to the Legislature by Dec. 1.

SB 5857 by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, puts the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) in charge of pharmacy benefits managers instead of the current oversight by the Department of Revenue.

The bill also adds that a pharmacy benefits manager must account for on a maximum allowable costs list of the provided drugs. It also modifies how to resolve disputes between pharmacies and PBMs, and outlines the OIC appeals process.

The OIC must also study the pharmacy chain of supply with a report due by Nov. 1.

SB 6536 by Sen. Becker calls for the establishment of uniform regulations for the rates filing process and reviews for group health benefit plans. Exceptions to the bill are small group plans, stand-alone dental plans and stand-alone vision plans.

SB 6558 by Parlette will allow a hospital pharmacy license to include individual practitioner offices and multi-practitioner clinics owned by that hospital. The State Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission will be in charge of ensuring such operations are regulated and inspected at levels appropriate to the provided services.
SB 6327 by Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, that requires hospitals to have written discharge policies including plans for a patient’s physical, emotional and social needs. A patient will be able to choose a lay caregiver with procedures set up to govern a hospital;s relation with that caregiver.

State of Reform will provide updates on the budget negotiations and what becomes of these bills if the state is called into special session.