Healthcare Legislation News


State Level

HCFA-WA positions on Key Health Care Bills in the 2021 Legislative Session

The Mission of Health Care for All-WA is to achieve high quality, sustainable, affordable, publicly financed, and publicly and privately delivered health care for all Washington residents.

2021 Goal: pass legislation built on the UHC Work group recommendation and other legislation that moves our state toward publicly funded universal health care.

We endorse bills that align with our goal and have strong legislative support; we support bills that improve healthcare affordability and access until a publicly funded universal system can be established.

Updated March 27

E2SSB 5399 Concerning the creation of a universal health care commission.
Bill text Senate Bill Report

Sponsors: Senators Randall, Cleveland, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hunt, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Nguyen, Nobles, Robinson, Saldaña, Stanford, Van De Wege, Wellman and Wilson, C..

What this bill does: Original Bill: Declares the Legislature’s intent for all state residents to have publicly financed and privately and publicly delivered health care coverage that is comprehensive, equitable, and affordable,   that the plan be presented to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2024, and implemented by 2026. See amended bill update below.

Why it’s important:  Builds on the actuarial work done for the UHC Work Group and begins the implementation of the plan favored by a majority of the Work Group: a unified plan for universal health coverage run through a state agency.

HCFA-WA’s position:  ENDORSE Senate Version, SUPPORT House Version, offering amendments
Read our 2SSB 5399 Q&A

Progress: Passed the House Health Care and Wellness committee March 24 with striking amendment.* Read more about what this means for 5399 here.

*Striker / striker amendment / striking amendment: Amendment removing everything after the title and inserting a whole new bill. Very similar to a substitute, but because substitutes are not allowed on a chamber floor or in the Second House, strikers are used instead.

Check out this great primer on the state legislative process and definitions of terms.

 

E2SSB 5377 - Increasing Affordability of Standardized Plans on the Individual Market
Bill text | Senate Bill Report

Sponsors: Senators Frockt, Keiser, Conway, Das, Dhingra, Hunt, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Wilson, C., Nguyen, Pedersen, Saldaña and Salomon.

What this bill does:  Creates a premium assistance program for Exchange customers with incomes up to 500% of the FPL as the state budget allows, directs the Exchange to apply for Federal waivers to fund the premium subsidies, creates a health care affordability account in the state treasury, and requires insurers to offer all Exchange-designed standardized plans. Actuarial work done submitted to the Legislature in November 2020 found that a state appropriation of $100 million to $200 million annually would lead to 14,000 to 24,000 uninsured Washington residents newly gaining coverage.

Why it’s important: Increases Exchange plan affordability and access to coverage, brings down overall health care costs, and simplifies plan selection process for consumers. 

HCFA-WA’s position:  SUPPORT offering amendments- needs higher income eligibility- from up to $250% to up to 400% FPL, and raise appropriation from $100 to 200 million.

Progress: Passed House Health and Wellness Committee with amendments March 24.  Rep. Eileen Cody’s striking amendment shifts some of the regulatory authority of the Exchange to the state on matters of enrollee eligibility, and premium assistance amounts and other areas. It removes cost-sharing assistance. It requires a study, when public option plan enrollment reaches 10,000, to measure effects of public option plans on consumers, including benefits and premium and cost-sharing amounts.

 

ESSB 5203 - Producing, distributing, and purchasing generic prescription drugs
Bill text | Senate Bill Report

Sponsors: Senators Van De Wege, Carlyle, Frockt, Hasegawa, Keiser, Liias, Nguyen, Randall, Robinson, Salomon, Stanford and Wilson, C.

What this bill does:  Expands the existing Prescription Drug Purchasing Consortium by allowing the state to enter into partnerships with other states, groups of states and non-profit organizations for the production and distribution of generic drugs in addition to purchasing them.

Why It’s Important:  Lowers prices of pharmaceutical drugs by allowing a public agency to compete with private pharmaceutical companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.  Increases Consortium leverage in negotiating drug prices.

HCFA-WA’s position: SUPPORT

Progress: Passed House Appropriations with amendments March 31. Listen to Ronnie Shure’s testimony in support hereThe amendment is designed to give the state more flexibility in using innovative purchasing strategies for generic drugs and insulin with the intent to obtain the best price. A previous amendment added "and insulin" to ensure that insulin is specifically included in state purchasing efforts.

 

E2SHB 1272 - Concerning health system transparency
Bill text | House Bill Report

Sponsors: Representatives Macri, Cody, Fitzgibbon, Davis, Hackney, Thai, Kloba, Rule, Simmons, Pollet, Dolan, Slatter, Riccelli and Harris-Talley.

What this bill does: Requires hospitals and provider-based clinics to disclose detailed financial, operations and patient demographic information,(e.g. race, primary language, gender, income, any disability, and zip code) and patient outcomes, requires that public hospitals include additional detailed reporting about their community health improvement services.

Why it’s important:  Provides for measurement of quality of care and costs to inform cost-effective purchasing of health care, improves ability to measure and thus reduce health disparities, and will help the state understand the true costs of healthcare in order to establish sustainable pricing levels.

HCFA-WA’s position:  SUPPORT

Progress: Passed Senate Health & Long Term Care March 26. The Senate adopted a striking amendment by Senator Randall, to specify separate effective dates each of the reporting requirements, and designates the University of Washington as the entity to do a study on effects on hospital staffing and patient outcomes.

 

E2SSB 5052 - Concerning the creation of health equity zones.
Bill text | Senate Bill Report

Sponsors: Senators Keiser, Randall, Cleveland, Conway, Das, Frockt, Hasegawa, Kuderer, Lovelett, Nguyen, Nobles, Robinson, Saldaña, Salomon, Wilson, C.

What this bill does: 

Requires the Department of Health, subject to funding, to designate health equity zones statewide and develop projects to reduce health disparities that meet the needs of each zone, allows communities to self-identify as health equity zones and develop projects to track and improve health outcomes.

Why it’s important: 

Community-driven, placed-based efforts to reduce health disparities in the most vulnerable populations have been shown to be effective when they have the resources to implement projects sensitive and tailored to the needs of a community. Universal health coverage is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve health equity.

HCFA-WA’s Position: SUPPORT

Progress: Passed Health Care and Wellness March 17, referred to Appropriations, public hearing March 30, 1:30 pm

 

SSB 5020 – Assessing a penalty on unsupported prescription drug price increases
to protect the safety, health, and economic well-being of Washington residents.
Bill text | Senate Bill Report

Sponsors: Senators Keiser, Robinson, Conway, Das, Hasegawa, Kuderer, Lovelett, Rolfes, Stanford, Van De Wege and Wilson, C..

What this bill does:  Requires pharmaceutical companies to file detailed reports annually to support price increases for drugs. Penalties would be assessed for unsupported price increases, or if manufacturers fail to report or withdraw their drugs to avoid the penalty.  Penalty funds to be deposited in the foundational public services account.   

Why it’s important:  Increases the affordability of drugs for individuals and the state by reining in exorbitant unsubstantiated price increases.  Holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for their prices. 

HCFA-WA’s position:  SUPPORT

Progress: Did not pass house of origin, will not advance further in 2021 session

 

SB 5204 – Creating the whole Washington health trust
Bill text

Sponsors: Senators Hasegawa, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Nguyen, Stanford, and Wilson, C.

What this bill does:   Describes a process for creating a publicly funded universal health care plan with defined benefits and a detailed financing scheme, with the plan to be implemented by 2024. 

Why it’s important:   The Trust described is based upon HCFA-WA’s original Washington Health Security Trust bill, interim due dates are specified, and coverage is offered beginning on Nov. 1, 2023.

HCFA-WA’s position:  SUPPORT

Progress: Did not pass house of origin, will not advance further in 2021 session

 

HB 1000Expanding mental health support for law enforcement officers. 
Bill text | House Bill Analysis 2021

Sponsors: Representatives Maycumber, Lovick, Ryu, Leavitt, Boehnke, Eslick, Shewmake, Lekanoff, Fitzgibbon, Johnson, J., Slatter, Wylie, Tharinger, Goodman, Bronoske, Valdez, Callan, Young, Graham, Cody, Robertson, Ormsby, Dent, Stonier, Fey, Macri, Jacobsen, Schmick, Davis, Pollet and Bergquist.

What this bill does:   mandates three pilot projects to support behavioral health improvement and suicide prevention efforts for law enforcement officers, to be funded through grants made available to law enforcement associations and agencies

Why it’s important:  Addresses the behavioral health training needed by law enforcement in order to save lives 

HCFA-WA’s position:  SUPPORT

Progress: Did not pass house of origin, will not advance further in 2021 session

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