Events News Issues Commentary 5 Thing About WA House recommends passage of several health care bills

Several health-related bills are headed to full floor votes in the Washington House, including one to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21.

The House Healthcare & Wellness Committee recommended Friday that the full House approve several bills and send them to the state Senate.

The high-profile bipartisan bill — HB 2313 — by Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, would make Washington the second state, behind Hawaii, to raise its age to legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. A companion bipartisan bill — SB 6157 by Sen. Mark Miloscia, R- Federal Way — is working its way through the Senate.

The House committee recommended approval of Orwall’s bill 9-3. The issue tackles good health vs. free choice.

“The only way I think we can keep (smoking) out of the schools is to keep it out the hands of 18-year-olds going to school,” said Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis.

One of the three “nay” votes, Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Federal Way, countered: “Eighteen-year-olds can file for bankruptcy. They can get a divorce. They go to war. They get the death penalty. I don’t feel right telling them they can’t smoke.”

Here is a rundown of other bills that the Healthcare & Wellness Committee recommended passage on Friday.

HB 2450 by Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, addresses a future state experiment with rural hospitals.

Washington has 39 hospitals of 25 beds or less that are designated critical access hospitals in rural areas. Meanwhile, the Washington Rural Health Access Preservation project wants to experiment with new health care delivery and payment systems tailored for rural areas, with a potential 12 to 15 critical access hospitals possibly being used for a pilot project.

Under this bill, a rural hospital that fails to meet critical access hospital status as a result of participation in this pilot program may renew its hospital license and resume operations as a hospital with the same number of previously approved beds without having to meet certificate of need and construction review requirements.

“We’re trying to increase innovation and experimentation,” Tharinger said.

HB 2408 by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, says a health carrier or health plan offered to state employees may not require cost sharing, including copayments, for rehabilitative, Eastern Asian medicine or chiropractic care to exceed the cost-sharing arrangement that the enrollee pays for primary care.

“This is really to make sure the patients get the treatments they are paying for with their insurance,” said Jinkins.

HB 2458 by Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, would allow individuals to donate unused prescription drugs that meet certain quality standards to a pharmacy for redistribution to patients at no cost. It also would remove the requirement that priority for receiving donated drugs be given to patients with an income of 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less.

HB 2711 by Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, would order the Washington Department of Health to study the availability of sexual assault nurse examiners across the state, find areas where there is a shortage and come up with a plan to address those shortages. A report would be due by Dec. 1.

HB 2725 by Rep. JD Rossetti, D-Longview, would allow a pharmacist to dispense up to 30 days of a prescription drug that is not a controlled substance to a patient with an expired prescription if the pharmacist attempts to contact the prescribing practitioner, and if the patient has been on a consistent drug therapy.

HB 2432 by Rep Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, would increase the licensing surcharges from $25 to $50 for substance abuse monitoring programs for osteopathic physicians and physician assistants. Also, the the Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery’s contracts with substance abuse monitoring programs would become a legal requirement.

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