Message from the President - March 2018

Constance D. Huynh, MPH, PA-C, President

Legislative Update

Dear PA Colleagues,

We have made it through the dog-days of winter and now welcome spring. The short Legislative Session ended on March 8th and it proved to be as busy as promised. WAPA had both wins and losses, but overall our presence on the Hill was felt. We continue to make headway to ensure our essential role in healthcare providing high quality medicine and improved access for our patients. Many thanks to our Legislative Committee and our Lobbyist for their tireless work.

Summary from our lobbyist, Kate White Tudor, J.D.:

Wins:

Pediatric rate increase for Medicaid: Both the House and Senate budgets include an increase of $13.8 million to increase Medicaid payments for primary care services provided to pediatric patients to the same level as the temporary rate increase funded through the Affordable Care Act. The budget bill specifies “Both physician and non-physician practitioners are eligible for these increases . . . . Increases are based on eligible codes.”

Increase in liability for wrongful death defeated: WAPA joined with the entire health care provider community in opposing HB 2262, which would have significantly increased provider exposure to wrongful death lawsuits. This bill was expected to be the last bill voted on before the cutoff on March 3, but the majority of legislators agreed with an amendment that would have significantly limited the impact of the bill, so it was not brought up for a vote.

Medicine take back passed: HB 1047 creates a statewide program for securely disposing of unused medications, funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The bill has been worked for most of the last ten years, but finally there was sufficient activist pressure for the pharmaceutical industry to reach an agreement and allow the bill to pass. It passed the Senate unanimously! All pharmacies statewide will have the opportunity to apply to have a secure drop-box located on-site.

Maintenance of certification will not be required: WAPA supported HB 2257, which prohibits the Medical Commission from requiring maintenance of certification as a condition of licensure (the Commission supported this legislation as well—it was brought forward by a legislator on behalf of a concerned physician in her district). The bill has passed!

Bad opioid bills defeated: HB 2272 and HB 2325 (and their Senate companion bills) would have imposed pill count limits and required all providers to consult the prescription monitoring plan for every prescription regardless of patient history or context. All four bills died in their chambers of origin without receiving a vote on the floor.

Dead bills we cared about :

Whistleblower protection did not pass. HB 2258 would have extended whistleblower protections to health care providers at hospitals or other facilities who are not employed by the facility. The bill made it through the House and Senate committees, but died in the Senate Rules committee at cutoff.

Hospital Privileges clarification for PAs and ARNPs did not pass. HB 2264 would have clarified that hospitals should use the same process for granting privileges to PAs and ARNPs that they use for physicians. The bill passed the House unanimously, passed the Senate committee, and died in the Senate Rules committee at cutoff.

Bill expanding mental health providers able to bill L&I did not pass. This bill was proposed by the marriage and family therapists and other masters-level mental health providers. We thought it might have provided an opportunity to clarify the role of PAs in providing mental health services to L&I patients. However, the bill was poorly drafted and proponents had not worked with either stakeholders or the agency, so the bill died without a vote in committee. We may have an opportunity to work to bring this bill back in the future.

We don’t know yet :

Governor’s Opioid bill: WAPA worked alongside WSMA and many other provider organizations to pass the Governor’s opioid bill HB 2489. It did not pass the Senate by the cutoff on March 3, but it may be considered “necessary to implement the budget” and so may be brought up for a vote this week. Proponents are also working to put some of the bill’s key policies into the budget. We will know more by the time the legislature adjourns and WSMA’s budget analysis is distributed to explain how this bill was addressed.

Legislative Committee:

Linda Dale, Co-Chair
Lyle Larson, Co-Chair
Kate White Tudor, Lobbyist
Connie Huynh
Lyn Storm
Betty Stewart
Monica Morrison
Linda Krause

What’s next:

WAPA Spring CME conference- Join us Saturday April 28th from 12:00 pm -1:00 pm in the Main Lecture Hall and listen to a Washington State Legislative Update by Kate White Tudor, JD.

AAPA National Conference- There will be a joint reception in New Orleans at Public Belt on May 20, 2018 from 5pm-7pm in the Riverside Hilton Hotel (Public Belt is on the 2 nd floor). The joint reception is open to all WA state PAs and alumni from MEDEX NW and Heritage University.

In Solidarity,


Constance D. Huynh, MPH, PA-C

President