Washington's Legislature is considering SSB 5499, which would allow the state to join 39 others in an Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. The compact allows certain qualified health care workers from other states to practice in any state that is a part of the compact.
This is a critical tool to alleviating the pressure that health care providers - including dialysis providers - are experiencing across the state.
Read our testimony for Washington's House Committee on Postsecondary Education & Workforce, which heard the bill on March 22 (it has already passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis).
On behalf of the Northwest Kidney Council, thank you for the opportunity to comment in strong support of SSB 5499, which allows Washington to join 39 other states in the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact.
Our organization partners with patient advocates, health care professionals, providers and researchers to advance kidney care in both Washington and Oregon. Together we are committed to ensuring that all patients with kidney disease receive high quality care and that treatment is accessible to all.
There are more than 15,300 Washingtonians living with End Stage Renal Disease. Their only options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. It is essential that these patients have access to a qualified network of providers that can help them manage this life-threatening diagnosis.
While the pandemic has receded by several important metrics, Washington’s health care providers – including dialysis providers – are still very much feeling the impacts of the workforce shortage that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. SSB 5499 offers a tested and practical approach to alleviating the pressure that health care providers are currently experiencing around the state, and in doing so, will improve kidney patient outcomes.
Gov. Inslee’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation, which included the Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, allowed volunteer health care providers (in good standing) from out of state to practice in Washington without a state license. The Act expired with the emergency declaration, but it offers a valuable roadmap to addressing the ongoing issues in Washington’s health care workforce. With SSB 5499, we have the opportunity build on lessons learned from the pandemic.
We strongly encourage the Washington Legislature to follow the lead of so many other states that have begun to address their health care workforce problems through this proven regulatory tool. Thank you again for the opportunity to provide our perspective.