The 2021 Legislative Session kicked off in January and is functioning virtually this year. Operating the Legislative Session almost entirely online has created significant challenges and obstacles; despite these challenges, the Washington Legislature is now about half-way through the 2021 Legislative Session. The Legislature is tackling a number of highly controversial bills this year; however, their main focus has been on facing the challenges presented by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
All bills that have not passed out of their chamber of origin by Tuesday, March 9th at 5 PM will be considered “dead” for this legislative session, unless the bill is deemed to be “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB). However, all bills introduced this year will be automatically revived on the first day of the 2022 Legislative Session.
Following is current status of bills that WAMFT is tracking for the 2021 Legislative Session with our lobbyists. You can also listen to the Legislative Update here:
HB 1196/SB 5325 – Concerning audio-only telemedicine. WAMFT SUPPORTS
Requires reimbursement for audio-only telemedicine services.
The House bill passed out of the House of Representatives on Feb. 24th with a vote count of 94 yeas, 3 nays, and 1 excused. The House Bill has been referred to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.
The Senate Bill also passed out of the Senate on Feb. 26th with a vote count of 47 yeas, 0 nays, and 2 excused. The Senate Bill is likely to be referred to House Health Care & Wellness Committee.
SB 5229 – Concerning health equity continuing education for health care professionals. WAMFT SUPPORTS
Requires the Department of Health to adopt rules requiring health care professionals to receive continuing equity education that enables health care professionals to care effectively for patients/clients from diverse cultures. This course would need to be completed at least once every four years.
The bill passed out of the Senate on Feb. 17th with 35 yeas and 14 nays. The bill was referred to the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.
HB 1349 – Concerning peer specialists. WAMFT CONCERNED
Establishes peer specialists/ peer specialist trainees as a new health profession to be licensed by the Department of Health. Establishes standards and training requirements.
The bill did not pass out of House Health Care & Wellness Committee before the policy cutoff and is technically “dead” for this session; however, the bill will go through a second “sunrise review”.
“Sunrise Review” - In Washington State, the Department of Health makes recommendations to the legislature on health profession credentialing proposals and proposals to add new insurance mandates. These are done at the request of the chairs of legislative committees. The process is called a "sunrise review."
HB 1237 –Defining family resource centers. WAMFT SUPPORTS
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, and referral to, or direct delivery of, family services in a manner that is welcoming and strengths-based.
The bill passed off the House with 94 yeas, 1 nay, and 3 excused. The bill has been referred to the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee.
HB 1477 – Implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services. WAMFT SUPPORTS
The Department of Health must designate one or more crisis hotline centers to provide crisis intervention services and crisis care coordination to persons who access the 988 Crisis Hotline within Washington.
The bill was pulled from House Rules Committee March 2nd and can be considered on the House Floor at any point in the next week.
Read full Legislative Update here