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AMTA-WA Key Legislative Issues

Saturday, April 13, 2019  
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B&O tax. On March 29, AMTA-WA lobbyist Melanie Stewart testified in opposition to legislation that, if implemented, would increase the B&O tax by 20%, from 1.5% to 1.8%, for LMTs and other health care providers beginning January 1, 2020. The money raised by HB 2158 would be used to fund additional higher education opportunities. This legislation is a disconnect. Washington State as a whole benefits from these opportunities, not simply those health care providers that pay B&O. While the Senate has not yet indicated a willingness to consider an increase in the B&O tax, that could change overnight when the House and Senate engage in final budget negotiations. If this issue is important to you, please see the legislative action alert.

Prior authorization. ESB 5887 as amended [PDF] by the House states that prior authorization is not allowed for up to six visits for each of the following: massage, chiropractic, PT, OT, speech and hearing therapies, and acupuncture. The legislation passed the House unanimously on April 12. It now returns to the Senate for concurrence with the House amendments, and then onto the Governor for his signature.  While this may seem familiar because legislation was passed to do just that in 2018, some carriers came up with creative ways to circumvent the law. Thanks to our chiropractor friends, this legislation, which strengthens the original legislation, is the result. AMTA-WA has been supportive of this legislation throughout the legislative process. 

Key improvements to the 2018 legislation include: 

  • Makes provisions relating to prior authorization applicable to a health carrier's contracting entity, in addition to the carrier itself.
  • Expands the prohibition against prior authorization to include utilization management or review of any kind, including prior, concurrent, or postservice review.
  • Clarifies that utilization management or review may not be required for six visits for each of the following: Chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, or speech and hearing therapy.
  • Removes the requirement that the six visits be consecutive or for a new episode of care.
  • Changes the definition of" new episode of care" by making it applicable to new conditions or diagnoses (instead of new or recurrent conditions) and lengthening the time period within which the enrollee may not have been treated for the new condition or diagnosis to within the plan year, instead of within the previous ninety days.
  • Prohibits a health carrier or its contracting entity from retroactively denying care or refusing payment for the six visits. 

Photo identification. SHB 1082, as amended [PDF] by Senate Health Care, requires that

a massage therapist or reflexologist must have government-issued photo identification on his or her person or have it be available for inspection by city, county, or state law enforcement or Department of Health personnel at all times he or she practices massage therapy or reflexology. The name of the massage therapist or reflexologist on the government-issued photo identification must match the name on the massage therapy license or reflexology certification. The legislation is awaiting a full vote of the Senate. 

Sexual misconduct. SHB 1198 [PDF], advocated for by health care consumer organizations, requires a health care provider to notify a patient if the provider has been sanctioned for acts of unprofessional conduct involving sexual misconduct and is subject to an order or stipulation issued by a disciplining authority. WAC 246-16-100 defines sexual misconduct. The legislation passed the Senate unanimously on April 11. It’s now on its way to the Governor for his signature. 

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