Attached you will find a summary of the legislation that AWPHD worked on during the recently adjourned legislative session. (Actually, there were four legislative sessions: a special session late in 2011, the regular 2012 session and two 2012 special sessions. We have been working on some of these issues since last November!)
For the most part, this report discusses bills that relate specifically to Public Hospital Districts; the outcome of other hospital related policy bills was addressed by WSHA in the April 19 "Inside Olympia".
In many ways this session was a reactive session--working to defend ourselves not only from assaults on revenue but also from various (sometimes ill conceived) attempts to expand transparency, generally at significant cost to the hospital district. Of course the budget required the most attention and AWPHD worked closely with WSHA on that. There were a number of budget issues followed by WSHA; a report is contained in the April 11 edition of "Inside Olympia".
The big news is that cost-based reimbursement for Critical Access Hospitals (32 of the 38 are public hospital districts) was ultimately not cut. The original budget submitted by the Governor, the first budget adopted by the house and the budget proposed by the Senate Democratic caucus all contained significant cuts to cost-based reimbursement for Critical Access Hospitals.
Our ultimate success was due to three specific factors: 1) the significant work done by local hospital leadership and local communities in keeping this issue 'top-of-mind" for legislators; 2) extremely effective lobbying by Lisa Thatcher and Len McComb (policy and budget, respectively); and 3) WSHA and AWPHD access to legislative leadership resulting from years of relationship building and support from the Washington Hospital PAC. Unfortunately, we were not successful in one area of concern for Public Hospital Districts: Non-Rural and Small Rural Indigent Assistance DSH program eliminated. The budget did maintain low-income DSH program at its current annual funding level and continued state grants to Certified Public Expenditure hospitals, including their DSH payments.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Director, Member Services
Association of Washington Public Hospital Districts