Capitol News
March 13, 2018
Melissa Johnson, WSLHA Lobbyist

The Legislature adjourned "sine die" last Thursday night. This is the first time in four years that a special session was not needed to finish the Legislature's work. On the final day of the session, the House and Senate passed the operating supplemental budget, along with bills on the use of deadly force by law enforcement and K-12 school funding.

The final supplemental operating budget includes $776 million to fully fund K-12 education. The budget also includes $48 million for Western State Hospital and $15 million for addressing the opioid crisis. Lawmakers also passed a $400 million property tax cut for 2019.


WSLHA Priority Legislation

Bill #

Abbrev. Title

Short Description

Status

SB 6157

Prior Authorization

SB 6157 passed the Legislature and has been delivered to Governor Inslee.

This bill prohibits health carriers from requiring prior authorization for an initial evaluation and management visit and up to six consecutive treatment visits in a new episode of care of chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, east Asian medicine, massage therapy, and speech and hearing therapies that meet the standards of medical necessity and are subject to quantitative treatment limits of the health plan.

Passed

SB 6362

Basic Education Funding

SB 6362 passed the Legislature and has been delivered to Governor Inslee.

This bill requires expedited salary phase-in to comply with the November 2017 Supreme Court order.
Creates an "experience factor" of 4% for school districts with above-the-state median staff experience and above average educational attainment.

Increases the special education multiplier.

Passed

SB 5179

Hearing Instrument Insurance Coverage

SB 5179 passed the Legislature and has been delivered to Governor Inslee.

Beginning January 1, 2019, health plans offered to Medicaid enrollees and to PEBB covered employees must include coverage for hearing instruments.  Coverage must include a new hearing instrument every five years, and services and supplies such as the initial assessment, fitting, adjustment, and auditory training.
For Medicaid enrollees, coverage must include, when medically necessary, a new hearing instrument every five years, a new hearing instrument when alterations to the existing hearing instrument cannot meet the needs of the patient, and services and supplies such as the initial assessment, fitting, adjustment, and auditory training.

The hearing instrument must be recommended and dispensed by a licensed audiologist, hearing aid specialist, or physician or osteopathic physician specializing in otolaryngology.

Passed

SB 1827

Educator Workforce

HB 1827 was introduced in the 2017 session, where it died in the House Appropriations Committee. It was resurrected this session.  It passed the House but died in the Senate Rules Committee.

This bill creates new educator recruitment and retention programs, including a program for educational staff associate recruitment.

Died

SB 6519

Third Party Benefit Manager Registration

SB 6519 was introduced this session but did not receive a hearing.

SB 6519 requires third party benefit managers to register with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) before doing business in Washington. It also requires these benefit managers to file their contracts with the OIC.

It was a "statement" bill to highlight the issue that benefit managers are making patient health care decisions but are not regulated by the state. A hearing was not expected.

Died


Retiring Legislators 

Several legislators have announced that they are not seeking re-election in the fall. These include Senator Michael Baumgartner, Representative Ruth Kagi, Representative Judy Clibborn, Representative Larry Haler, Representative Jay Rodne, Representative Melanie Stambaugh, Representative Dan Kristiansen, Representative Terry Nealey, and Representative Liz Pike.