The Washington state 2023 legislative session has come to a close, and the healthcare sector was one of the key areas of focus during the session. Lawmakers passed several bills that were important to the kidney community to include:
Increasing Medicaid rates:
The state approved a 30 percent increase in Medicaid rates for kidney dialysis providers beginning January 1, 2024. The state Medicaid rate for dialysis had not changed in 16 years, while the cost of providing care has increased each year. This is a significant win for the kidney community!
Organ transplant vehicles:
The legislature also passed a bill that would allow organ transplant vehicles to utilize lights and sirens when in transit. This is a common sense approach to ensuring kidney patients receive viable transplants in time. The NWKC led a coalition of organizations in support of this important legislation.
Improving the Kidney Care Workforce:
On April 20, 2023, Governor Jay Inslee signed ESHB 1073 into law, which will help ensure, among other things, that kidney dialysis patients have access to the care they need. This new law recognizes the important role that Medical Assistant-Hemodialysis Technicians (MA-HTs) play in providing life-sustaining treatments to patients undergoing dialysis by allowing MA-HT trainees who have completed their training to continue to work for up to 180 days after applying for certification. This will help ensure continuity of care for kidney dialysis patients and assure that patients with kidney disease in Washington have access to high-quality, safe, and effective care.
On April 20, 2023, Gov. Inslee signed SSB 5499 into law, which allows Washington to join 39 other states in the Multistate Nurse Licensure Compact. The compact allows RNs and LPNs who have a compact license to practice in any state that is part of the compact. This is a critical tool in alleviating the pressure that healthcare providers – including dialysis providers – are experiencing across the state. Read our testimony in support of this bill.
Gov. Inslee also signed SSB 5569 into law, which allows kidney care providers more flexibility in how they staff dialysis centers during times of emergency, like workforce shortages and natural disasters. Read our testimony here (back when the companion House bill had a hearing).
Improving Diversity in Clinical Trials:
2SHB 1745 will improve diversity in clinical trials in multiple ways to include establishing a clinical trials diversity program at the Washington State Institutional Review Board. In addition, the legislation requires any state entity or hospital receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct clinical trials of drugs or medical devices to adopt a policy concerning recruitment of persons who are members of underrepresented demographic groups, provide information in languages other than English, and to provide translation services.
All of our legislative priorities made it to the Governor's desk this year, making the Washington state 2023 legislative session a huge success for the kidney community. These bills will have a positive impact on the lives of people with kidney disease and their families. And while the session is over, our work is far from complete. The Northwest Kidney Council will continue to meet with legislators and our partners throughout the year to continue to build relationships and ultimately make progress on behalf of the kidney community. In addition, we will track the implementation of the recently passed legislation, to include rule-making.
If you have any questions about these bills or would like to work with the Northwest Kidney Council on future advocacy efforts, reach out any time to our director of advocacy, Nathaniel Brown, at email@example.com.