Updated: January 11, 2024
As the legislative session gears up in Washington state this January, the Northwest Kidney Council is closely tracking several bills important to the well-being of kidney patients and the health care professionals who serve them. These bills address pressing issues in healthcare, from ensuring access to vital preventive services to tackling emergency insulin supply and addressing the shortage of healthcare providers.
Let's take a look at the following bills that have been prefiled for introduction on January 8 (the first day of the 2024 legislative session) and their potential impact:
HB 1939 + HB 1917: Licensure Compacts for Social Workers and Physician Assistants
Social workers are indispensable members of the kidney dialysis team. Their specialized role in addressing the mental health needs of patients cannot be overstated. HB 1939 proposes adopting the Social Work Licensure Compact, a move that holds immense promise in bolstering the availability of social workers, especially in critical times and regions throughout the state. Giving kidney dialysis providers that operate in multiple states the ability to swiftly move social workers to areas of high demand is paramount for ensuring these important services are available. Read more about HB 1939 here.
Thank you to Reps. Orwall, Rule, Leavitt, and Slatter for sponsoring this legislation.
Physician assistants are also crucial members of the kidney dialysis team and the broader healthcare landscape. With a shortage of healthcare providers in Washington, including physician assistants, HB 1917 proposes adopting the Physician Assistant Compact. Enabling the influx of these professionals into the state could be a game-changer in addressing healthcare workforce scarcity. Collaborating with physicians, physician assistants play an instrumental role in providing comprehensive care to kidney patients. Further insights on HB 1917 can be found here.
We extend our thanks to Reps. Leavitt, Ybarra, Ryu, Volz, Schmidt, Christian and Slatter for their sponsorship of this bill.
On Wednesday, January 10, we submitted testimony in support of this legislation. Read our testimony here.
HB 1957: Preserving Coverage of Preventive Services Without Cost Sharing
Preventive healthcare is a cornerstone in curbing the onset of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). HB 1957 mandates health plans regulated by the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner to provide coverage without cost sharing for evidence-based preventive services. Services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force will be covered, including additional CDC-outlined immunizations. This broad-ranging coverage is pivotal in assisting Washingtonians to maintain their health and, ideally, reduce ESRD diagnoses. More details about HB 1957 can be found here.
On Tuesday, January 9th, we submitted testimony in support of this legislation. Read our testimony here.
We appreciate Reps. Riccelli, Ryu, Macri, Leavitt and Senn for shining a light on this critical issue.
SB 5776: Accessing an Emergency Supply of Insulin
Access to affordable insulin is a matter of life and death for many Washingtonians. SB 5776 addresses this urgency by allowing eligible residents to access a 30-day emergency supply of insulin annually with a maximum cost-sharing of $10. To qualify, you need to live in Washington, not have Medicaid or other drug coverage that has a cost limit of $35, have a doctor's prescription, and have less than a week's supply of insulin left. Explore SB 5776 further here.
Our gratitude to Sens. Keiser, Cleveland, Randall, Van De Wege, Conway, Dhingra, Kauffman for their sponsorship of this important bill.
On Thursday, January 11th, we submitted testimony in support of this legislation. Read our testimony here.
At the Northwest Kidney Council, we recognize the potential of these bills in positively shaping the healthcare landscape for kidney patients and healthcare professionals alike. We will keep our community updated as these bills move through the legislative process, and opportunities to engage arise.
Contact our Director of Advocacy, Nathaniel Brown, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.