LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 2021-2022
LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 2021
Concerning health equity continuing education for health care professionals
Requires the rule-making authority for each health profession to adopt rules requiring health care professionals to complete health equity education training at least once every four years.
Requires health equity courses to teach skills that enable a health care professional to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups, and communities, varying in race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, religion, age, ability, and socioeconomic status.
Signed into law 5/12/21
House Bill 1237
Defining family resource centers
Defines the term "family resource center" to mean a unified single point of entry where families, individuals, children, and youth in communities can obtain information, an assessment of needs, referral to, or direct delivery of family services in a manner that is welcoming and strength-based.
Signed into law 4/14/21
Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services
Directs the Department of Health to designate crisis hotline centers that meet standards related to technology and the ability to identify and deploy community crisis resources for persons experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
Establishes the 988 Implementation Team to provide guidance in implementing the 988-crisis hotline and the resources required for staffing, training, and technology for call centers to achieve an in-state call response of at least 90 percent.
Establishes the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy Committee to develop a comprehensive assessment of the behavioral health crisis services system and a recommended vision for an integrated crisis network throughout Washington.
Establishes the Statewide 988 Behavioral Health Crisis Response Line Tax on phone lines to fund the crisis hotline centers and response services.
Signed into law 5/13/21
Concerning audio-only telemedicine
Requires reimbursement for audio-only telemedicine services.
Expands the definition of telemedicine for hospital privileging to include audio-only telemedicine services.
Requires the Insurance Commissioner to study and make recommendations regarding telemedicine.
Extends the termination date of the telemedicine collaborative.
Signed into law 5/3/21
Concerning audio-only telemedicine
Requires behavioral health administrative service organizations and managed care organizations to reimburse providers for behavioral health service provided to any covered person if the services meet certain requirements.
Signed into law 4/16/21
LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS 2020
2020 brought many unforeseen challenges necessitating flexibility to address pressing current events. WAMFT’s lobbyists advocated for MFTs to be considered essential workers in Washington, advocated for telehealth pay parity from payors during the pandemic, and continued to provide defense against any increase in licensure fees. Lastly, Washington State SB 5054 (Licensure Reciprocity) became active, and licensed MFTs began to apply for lateral transfers of their credentials. However, our lobbyists continue to advocate for an improved verification process as many out of state clinicians have increased waiting times for their Washington State credentials.
LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 2019
Senate Bill 5054
Senate Bill 5054 directs the Department of Health to establish a reciprocity program for applicants from other states who seek a credential in Washington as a chemical dependency professional, mental health counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, or psychologist. The amended bill applies the reciprocity program to applicants from other states or territories with substantially equivalent or greater scope of practice to Washington's, rather than an equivalent scope of practice or greater. Persons with a probationary credential are limited to only practicing in licensed or certified behavioral health service providers. The Department of Health must prioritize identifying the five states or territories that have historically had the most applicants for reciprocity with a scope of practice that is substantially equivalent to or greater than the scope in Washington. With good luck, the House Appropriations committee will vote on the bill next week.
House Bill 1415
This bill ends use of the Health Professions Account for the administration of the Medical Marijuana Authorization database and requires that fees collected for the recognition card issued by a medical marijuana retailer with a medical marijuana endorsement be deposited in the Dedicated Marijuana Account. The Health Professions Account, the account that licensing fees including those of WAMFT are deposited into, may no longer be used to provide funding for administering the database. Fees collected for the recognition cards used by marijuana retailers must be deposited into the Dedicated Marijuana Account, instead of the Health Professions Account. The Senate Ways and Means committee will vote on this bill next week.
House Bill 1768
Relates to modernizing substance use disorder professional practice. This comprehensive bill seeks to accomplish many things:
• Renames chemical dependency professionals as substance use disorder professionals (SUDPs).
• Changes references to the goal of chemical dependency counseling from assisting clients to achieve and maintain abstinence to assisting clients in their recovery.
• Prohibits the Department of Health (DOH) from requiring an applicant to be an SUDP or substance use disorder trainee to participate in a voluntary substance abuse monitoring program after the applicant has one year of recovery from a substance use disorder.
• Prohibits DOH or a facility that cares for vulnerable adults from automatically denying certification or employment as a SUPD based on certain convictions after one year of recovery from a substance use disorder or untreated mental health disorder.
• Directs DOH to create a co-occurring disorder specialist enhancement for master's level mental health professionals and social workers which allows them to treat clients for substance use disorders who have a co-occurring mental health disorder that qualifies as a serious mental illness.
• Directs DOH to conduct a sunrise review to evaluate the need for creation of a bachelor's level behavioral health professional credential.
The Senate Ways and Means committee will vote on this bill next week.
Senate Bill 5385
Concerning Telemedicine Parity. For health plans issued on or after January 1, 2020, regulated health insurance carriers and the state employee health plans must reimburse a provider for health care service provided through telemedicine at the same rate as health care service provided in-person. Upon initiation or renewal of a contract with the Health Care Authority to administer a Medicaid managed care plan, a managed health care system must reimburse a provider for health care service provided through telemedicine at the same rate as health care service provided in-person. However, hospitals, hospital systems, telemedicine companies, and provider groups of 11 or more providers may negotiate and agree to reimbursement rates that differ from in-person services rates. Reimbursement for a facility fee must be subject to a negotiated agreement between the originating site and the health carrier. The requirement that services provided through store and forward technology must have an associated office visit is removed. The Collaborative for the Advancement of Telemedicine is directed to study store and forward technology with a focus on utilization, whether it should be paid at parity within in-person services, the potential for the technology to improve rural health outcomes, and ocular services. This bill is still waiting for a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee.