One of my favorite sections in the magazine “The Week” is the column “Boring, but Important.” As the name implies, the column highlights an issue the public should care about, even if mention of the topic might cause drowsiness for some readers. Recent topics have included the creation of a US genetic database, new rules for the admissibility of evidence in police searches, and the battle for the seat of retiring California Senator Barbara Boxer. No doubt many people find the topics interesting (I do!), but with information overload, they really can’t compete with news of the latest natural disaster, the Oscars, and the Seahawks.

I sometimes think “Boring but Important” when reading the monthly Washington State Legislature Bill Status Report, prepared by Washington Home Care Association (WAHCA) Legislative Consultant Leslie Emerick. As a founding board member and Past-President of the association, I am always interested in legislation that affects not only home care but health care in general. So, bear with me as I highlight a few of the health care bills we are tracking this session. They’re important. You can decide if they’re boring.

House and Senate Bills

“HB” is the house bill number; SB is the companion Senate bill. The hyperlink goes to the legislative website.

  • HB 1286 (SB 5258) would require the Department of Social and Health Services to contract for a study of options to help individuals prepare for long-term services and supports needs. WAHCA supports this bill as the long-term care needs of Washington State residents will increase drastically in the next 15 years.
  • HB 1167 (SB 5165) provides that persons seeking palliative care services in conjunction with treatment or management of chronic or life-threatening illness need not be homebound in order to be eligible for insurance coverage. WAHCA supports this bill.
  • HB 1403 (SB 5157) concerns telemedicine and recognizes it as a reimbursable service by which an individual receives medical services from a health care provider without in-person contact with the provider. WAHCA supports this bill as it will help telemedicine and telehealth become more accessible.
  • SHB 1956 Permits a person covered by a health plan to seek review by an independent review organization (IRO) if the insured’s insurance denies coverage. Requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to certify IROs and publish IRO determinations in an online database. Denials of long-term insurance benefits would be included. WAHCA supports this bill.