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2024 Legislative Recap: Washington Makes Progress, Oregon a Mixed Bag



Legislatures in the Oregon and Washington adjourned for the year on March 7. Now that both states have officially gaveled out of their short legislative sessions, the Northwest Kidney Council team would like to take a moment to reflect on progress made (or not) in each state.

 

In Olympia, several important bills made it to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk. Our team extends gratitude to the sponsors and the advocates that pushed this legislation over the finish line. You can see the names of the bill sponsors by clicking on the links below.

 

  • Social worker and physician assistant licensure compacts. SHB 1939 and HB 1917, respectively, will hopefully increase the numbers of these important members of the kidney care team by making it easier for them to relocate to Washington state.

  • Preserving coverage for preventative services. ESHB 1957 establishes a requirement for health plans under the regulation of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner to offer coverage for evidence-based preventive services without cost-sharing.

  • Convening a palliative care workgroup. SSB 5936 establishes a comprehensive workgroup — with stakeholders across the spectrum — to design a palliative care benefit for fully insured health plans.

 

One of our priority bills, SB 5776, did not make it through the legislative process this year. The bill would have enabled Washingtonians without Medicaid or other drug coverage to access a 30-day emergency supply of insulin each year, with a maximum cost-share of $10. We’ll continue to raise this issue with legislators in the interim and hopefully see it back on the table in 2025.

 

In Salem, we have more of a mixed bag.

 

While we were only engaged on two bills in the state, neither of them moved through the entire legislative process. That said, there were some bills that would have duplicated existing work on hospital discharges, upend current healthcare payment models, and others — that didn’t move through either. And, while we didn’t weigh in on this, there was a successful effort to require the Oregon Health Authority to establish a health care interpreter management system (SB 1578 A).

 

Oregon’s legislative session was far shorter than Washington’s — and the legislators from both parties were clear that their priority this year was to amend the state’s drug laws. So, we hope to see these concepts that NWKC supported brought back next year:

 

  • Streamlining licensing across all health care boards. This was a bipartisan bill (HB 4071) that would have allowed a qualified out-of-state health care worker to receive an immediate temporary license if they indicate that they intend to reside in Oregon.

  • Ensuring coverage for Continuous Glucose Monitoring. This provision was couched within a much larger health care bill (HB 4011) which could be why it didn’t move forward in a short session. We supported this concept in 2023, 2024, and will work with our partners at the American Diabetes Association to move it over the finish line in 2025.

 

Once again, the NWKC team thanks the many legislators that championed these issues and our partners around the region for their work making progress on behalf of the kidney community. We are looking forward to continuing to advocate with decision-makers throughout 2024 and beyond.

 

If you are a member of the kidney community (patient, caregiver, provider, advocate) and want to be more involved in our efforts in Salem and Olympia, reach out to our Director of Advocacy, Nathaniel Brown, any time: nathaniel@nwkidneycouncil.org.

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