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2024 Washington Legislative Session Updates



As the legislative session in Washington progresses into its fourth week, the Northwest Kidney Council remains dedicated to monitoring key bills crucial for the well-being of kidney patients and the healthcare professionals serving them. These bills address pressing issues in healthcare, from ensuring access to vital services to tackling emergency insulin supply and addressing the shortage of healthcare providers.

 

Here's a glimpse into the five bills we are supporting this year, their current status in the legislature, and the written testimony we've submitted. Stay informed as we track the progress of these bills and advocate for positive changes in the kidney care landscape.

 

HB 1939: Licensure Compact for Social Workers


Social workers play a vital role within the kidney dialysis team, addressing the crucial mental health needs of patients. The significance of their specialized role cannot be emphasized enough. HB 1939 authorizes Washington State to join Social Work Licensure Compact, a promising proposal that holds the potential to enhance the availability of social workers, particularly during critical periods and in key regions across the state. Granting kidney dialysis providers operating in multiple states the ability to efficiently deploy social workers to high-demand areas is essential for ensuring the accessibility of these critical services. Read more about HB 1939 here.

 

Where it stands:  On Monday, January 8th, we submitted testimony on behalf of this bill.  Read our testimony here. HB 1939 passed the house 96-0 (2 excused) on January 29th. Its next stop is the Senate where is has been referred to the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

 

Thank you to Reps. Orwall, Rule, Leavitt, Slatter, Bateman, Reed, Jacobsen, Callan, Macri, Donaghy, Doglio, Goodman, Reeves, Riccelli, Shavers, and Hackney for sponsoring this legislation.


HB 1917: Licensure Compact for Physician Assistants

  

Physician assistants play a vital role within the kidney dialysis team and the broader healthcare community. Given the existing shortage of healthcare providers in Washington, which includes physician assistants, HB 1917 authorizes Washington State of the Physician Assistant Compact. This proposed measure has the potential to significantly impact the healthcare landscape by facilitating the entry of these professionals into the state, offering a promising solution to address workforce shortages. Working collaboratively with physicians, physician assistants play a pivotal role in delivering comprehensive care to kidney patients. Further information on HB 1917 can be found here.

 

Where it stands: On Wednesday, January 10th, we submitted testimony on this legislation. Read our testimony here. On January 29th, HB 1917 passed the House on a vote of 96-0 (2 excused). Its next stop is the Senate where it has been referred to the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

 

We extend our thanks to Reps. Leavitt, Ybarra, Ryu, Volz, Schmidt, Christian, Slatter, Bateman, Chambers, Reeves, Reed, Graham, Simmons, Jacobsen, Timmons, Macri, Gregerson, Caldier, Tharinger, Nance, Riccelli, Harris, and Shavers for their sponsorship of this bill.

 

HB 1957: Preserving Coverage of Preventive Services Without Cost Sharing

 

Promoting preventive healthcare is fundamental to mitigating the onset of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). HB 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. The coverage extends to services endorsed by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, encompassing additional immunizations outlined by the CDC. This comprehensive coverage plays a crucial role in supporting the health maintenance of Washington residents and, ideally, in reducing the incidence of ESRD diagnoses. More details about HB 1957 can be found here.


Where it stands: On Tuesday, January 9th, we submitted testimony on this legislation. Read our testimony here. This legislation was voted out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committe on January 12, and is now in House Rules.


We appreciate Reps. Riccelli, Ryu, Macri, Leavitt, Senn, Reed, Ormsby, Callan, Doglio, Fosse, Goodman, Lekanoff, Wylie, Pollet and Davis for shining a light on this critical issue through their sponsorship on this legislation.

 

SB 5776: Accessing an Emergency Supply of Insulin

 

Ensuring affordable access to insulin is a critical matter of survival for numerous residents of Washington. SB 5776 responds to this pressing need by enabling eligible individuals to obtain a 30-day emergency supply of insulin each year, with a maximum cost-sharing limit of $10. To be eligible, residents must reside in Washington, lack Medicaid or other drug coverage with a cost limit of $35, possess a doctor's prescription, and have less than a week's supply of insulin remaining. Explore SB 5776 further here.

 

Where it stands:  On Thursday, January 11th, we submitted testimony in support of this legislation. Read our testimony here. This legislation was voted out of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on January 25th. It's now in Senate Ways and Means.

 

Our gratitude to Sens. Keiser, Cleveland, Randall, Van De Wege, Conway, Dhingra, Kauffman, Hasegawa, Hunt, Kuderer, Lovick, Mullet, Nguyen, Nobels, Salomon, Stanford, Valdez, Wilson for their sponsorship of this important bill.

 

SB 5936: Convening a Palliative Care Benefit Work Group

 

The Northwest Kidney Council strongly endorses Senate Bill 5936, which would create a work group to design a palliative care benefit for fully insured health plans. Emphasizing our commitment to comprehensive and compassionate healthcare for those with serious and life-limiting illnesses, including End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), we believe SB 5936 aligns with our mission. The bill's focus on establishing parameters, clinical criteria, and fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders reflects a dedication to ensuring optimal palliative care for individuals with serious illnesses. We urge the committee to pass this legislation, recognizing the positive impact a palliative care benefit can have on the well-being of Washingtonians facing such health challenges.  More information on the bill can be found here.

 

Where it stands: On Monday, January 8th, we supported testimony on this legislation.  See our testimony here. This legislation passed the Senate 49-0. It will be assigned to the House Health Care & Wellness Committee for their consideration.

 

We appreciate Sens. Conway, Dozier, Frame, Hasegawa, Kuderer, Nobles, Rivers, and Salomon. for sponsoring this critical bill.

 

At the Northwest Kidney Council, we acknowledge the potential impact of these bills in shaping the healthcare environment for both kidney patients and healthcare professionals in a positive manner. We commit to keeping our community informed as these bills progress through the legislative process and as opportunities to actively participate become available.

 

Contact our Director of Advocacy, Nathaniel Brown, for more information: nathaniel@nwkidneycouncil.org.


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