Pre-filed bills we’re watching in Washington

As Washington’s Legislature gears up for the start of a long session on January 14 of next year, legislators have pre-filed 93 bills that range in subject matter from Pacific razor clams to off-road vehicles. Several of those pre-filed bills are related to health care; here are seven we’ll be watching:

HB 1016 is a new version of last session’s SHB 2585, which passed unanimously in the House but was ultimately returned to the House Rules Committee by the Senate. The bill pertains to hospitals that don’t provide sexual assault evidence kit collection or don’t have providers who can provide collection available at all times. If a hospital fits that description, it would be required to tell any individual who requests evidence kit collection of its inability to do so within two hours and coordinate care with the “local community sexual assault agency” to help the patient find an appropriate facility. Noncompliance could subject a hospital to a penalty of $2,000.

HB 1018 would extend protections in the Patient Bill of Rights to include dental-only plans. The bill of rights was enacted in an effort to protect consumers from potentially unfair health insurance practices — for example, it prohibits insurers from denying coverage for care that had prior authorization. A similar bill (HB 1316) was introduced in 2017 and carried through to last year’s session; ultimately, it was returned to the House Rules Committee.

HB 1019, or the “Vaccine consumer protection act,” would allow for positive antibody titers, signed by a provider, to stand in place of certain state immunization requirements for students to attend school or daycare. Antibody titers are tests that measure antibodies in the blood and are used to prove immunity — a positive test, according to the bill, can be the result of vaccination or natural exposure. The bill, which was inspired by New Jersey’s “Holly’s Law”, would also require providers to tell people about the alternative to vaccination — and of possible vaccine exemptions — before administering vaccines. This particular bill wasn’t brought forward last year, though several of this bill’s sponsors (Reps. Young, DeBolt, Eslick, Shea, McCaslin, and Jenkin) have sponsored bills relating to vaccines in the past.

HB 1023 would allow adult family homes — residential homes that provide room, board, laundry, supervision, and help with daily living — to increase capacity from six to seven or eight beds if they meet certain requirements. The requirements would include having an adult family home license for at least two years and having completed two full inspections without any “enforcement actions.” Last year, a similar bill was amended and passed to the Senate before being returned to the House Rules Committee.

HB 1039 would allow schools to get and maintain opioid overdose medication through a standing order; school districts with 2,000+ students would be required to have at least a single set of the medication doses at each high school, and public colleges and universities with residence halls that house 100+ students would need to plan for keeping and administering the meds in and around the halls, as well as training personnel. OSPI would have to create policy guidelines and training requirements for public schools, as well as start up a grant program to fund public schools in order to train personnel on administering the medication. Similar bills were introduced last session; the same bill, in its second-substitute form, made it to the Senate before being returned to the House Rules Committee.

HB 1053 and 1054, both introduced by Rep. Kristine Reeves, would exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers from sales tax. Legislators introduced several bills with the goal to introduce a tax exemption for feminine hygiene products last year, and one with the goal to do the same for diapers — none crossed the finish line.