Health Law Section Legislative Update: Health and medical-related legislation

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Review legislative session highlights relating to the healthcare field and medical-related issues.

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Washington State’s legislative session just concluded at the end of June 2013. While thousands of bills were introduced, here are just a few of the session highlights that passed as they relate to the healthcare field and medical-related issues.

Senate Bill 5601: Donation of electronic health records.

Senate Bill 5601 makes it clear under state law that hospitals can donate electronic health record systems to independent physicians. Allowing for the donation of electronic health records systems was called into question by a Washington State Attorney General’s Opinion, AGO 2012 No. 7.

Senate Bill 5666: Concerning health care quality improvement measures.

Senate Bill 5666 clarifies there will be a state limitation on the remedies a plaintiff physician can seek against a peer review committee when federal immunities are found to not apply. It also clarifies that hospitals may operate more than one quality improvement committee and those committees can have different areas of focus. The bill adds professional conduct as a matter to be considered during the medical staff review and sanction procedure, and requires sanction procedures to comply with medical staff bylaws.

House Bill 1515: Medical Assistants.

House Bill 1515 changes the scope of practice for a medical assistant-registered and a medical assistant-certified. Some changes also include when a task may be delegated to a medical assistant-hemodialysis technician. This bill also requires a healthcare assistant’s credential to be in good standing prior to conversion to a medical assistant credential. Last, this bill allows for an applicant for a medical assistant-registered credential to work for 60 days while his or her license is processed.

Senate Bill 5215: Licensure and Contracting.

Senate Bill 5215 prohibits requiring physicians to contract with any public or private insurance carrier as a condition of licensure. Additionally, it prohibits public and private carriers from requiring a physician or other health care provider to accept Medicaid rates — or a specified percentage of Medicaid rates — without the consent of the physician/provider.

House Bill 1679: Healthcare confidentiality.

House Bill 1679 consolidates health information statutes, including those related to mental health treatment and HIV and STD information, in a single place, Chapter 70.02 Revised Code of Washington. The effective date of July 1, 2014, provides a one-year delay to allow health care providers implementation time. The legislation endeavored to maintain current standards of disclosure, but there may be opportunities for further clarification in the 2014 legislative session.

For detailed information and supporting documents for each bill, go to the Washington State Legislature’s website, click “Bill Search,” and type in the bill number.

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