LEGISLATIVE UPDATES:
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4.13.15
WEEK 13 UPDATE

With two weeks until the scheduled end of the legislative session, the House and Senate are on the floor full time dealing with measures already passed by the opposite body.  Cutoff for bills (other than budget measures) to be out of the House and Senate is Wednesday, April 15th at 5:00 pm.  Typically, both bodies would work through the weekend, but a conflict over the capital budget caused the Senate to shut down from Thursday night through Monday morning, and the House chose not to work Saturday or Sunday.

The two chambers remain divided on the issue of new taxes, savings assumptions from “efficiencies” and funding for state employee raises.  However, the issue of funding or modifying the classroom size initiative (I-1351) seems to have been taken off the table.  Senate Republicans have found a constitutional provision that allows them to send a modified version of the measure back to a vote of the people this fall with just a simple majority vote, rather than the super majority vote required to directly modify the measure.  This takes away a great deal of negotiating power from the minority Democrats in the Senate, as the Republican budget was passed along caucus lines (26-23) and there are enough votes to pass the supporting measures without need for the minority party’s participation.  The bill sending I-1351 back to the ballot passed with two Democrats (27-22), Mark Mullet and Tim Sheldon.

The choice (especially in the Senate) not to work through the weekend and the continuing negotiations on the operating and transportation budgets have put a number of policy bills that have passed one chamber or the other without opposition in jeopardy, simply due to available time.  After the Wednesday cutoff, both the House and Senate will continue to work on bills necessary to implement the budget as well as policy bills that have passed both chambers but were modified, requiring the two bodies to negotiate on the differences.  For bills that have passed both chambers in the same form, attention now turns to the Governor’s office to encourage signature or veto action.  As we near the end of session, some bills that have passed both chambers may be held until the final 5 days, giving the Governor more time (20 days) to take action.

We still have several positive measures that need to be addressed.  SB 5293 (hydrocodone) and SB 5268 (ophthalmic drops prescriptions) are both on the House floor calendar awaiting final votes (no opposition, just need to be scheduled).  While HB 1762 (vision plan contracting) died in the Senate committee, HB 1471 still contains language that prohibits insurers from requiring discounts on non-covered services.  This bill appears to be agreed to at this point, and is expected to pass the Senate as it came out of committee with no amendments, although the insurers would be pleased to see this measure die due to the clock running out.

3.11.15
ATTN: OPW membership
From Linda Medeski

 

Our HB1762(fairness in contracting-insurance bill) passed the house 82-16!! Yahoo!!

 

Please take a moment to contact your house legislator and either thank them for supporting our bill (really important for them to continue hearing from us!!) and if they were one of them who didn’t, politely let them know you are disappointed in their decision not to support and would like to understand what their reservations were about supporting our bill.  (This is also really important for us to determine where/why they are aligning the way they did, but we want to be delicate in our approach so we maintain open communication.  Please feel free to word your correspondence differently if this doesn’t reflect your “language”, but remember, NO burning bridgesJ!!

 

Either way, it is critical for our continued grass roots to show our appreciation (which was overwhelming in the house!!) and better understand our opposition.  See the link below for how the vote count went down as well as the link to your representative’s contact information.

 

Example language to those voting NO:


Dear Rep. ___________

I understand that you were unable to support our HB1762-Fairness in insurance contracting.  I was disappointed to see this, as we did what we could to accommodate the concerns that members expressed to us, as well as worked with your leadership to address the concerns of the insurance companies. I would like to better understand what your reservations were regarding this piece of legislation. I appreciate the relationship we have established and want to keep our communication open.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you on future legislation.

Sincerely,

Dr. _______

Optometric Physician of WA



 Example language to those voting yes:

 

Dear Rep:____________

I understand that you voted in support of our HB1762-Fairness insurance contracting.  I appreciate your understanding of our efforts to accommodate both the concerns of our members as well as working with your leadership to address the concerns of the insurance companies.  To that end,  we have a very good bill that supports more transparent contracting practices between insurance companies and vision care providers which will ultimately allow us to provide better vision care to our patients.  We look forward to working with you on future legislation that continues to best serve the citizens of Washington State.

 

Sincerely,

 DR. _______________

Optometric Physician of WA

http://app.leg.wa.gov/far/RollCall?rollCallId=41277&bienId=23


GO  GRASSROOTS!  On to the Senate!

 

Your Grass root’s chair,

Linda Medeski

March 10, 2015
To OPW Members
From Linda Medeski

Greetings OPW Members,

Your action is needed to move our Fairness in Contracting Insurance bill forward.  (HB 1762). 

Recap of the bill:

·       Prohibit insurers from demanding discounts on services that they refuse to cover.

·       Allow eye care providers to contract to serve the medical eye care needs of patients insured by a medical plan without being forced to work through an affiliated discount vision plan.

·       Authorize eye care providers to choose suppliers, laboratories and other services that are not owned by a particular insurer or vision plan.

·       Prohibit participating provider agreements of indefinite duration, and prohibit the changing of terms of the agreement without written consent.

This bill has passed the House 82-16!!  If you are a key person to these legislators, please CALL and email.  If you have a legislator in your district on this committee, they need to hear from you!!  They represent all of us so they need to know we expect them to act on our behalf.

Now, we need you to contact your Senators immediately, in support of Rep. Riccelli's striking amendment, and to ask for a YES vote when it comes to the Senate floor.  We need to emphasize that this striking amendment reflects numerous requested amendments from the insurance industry, and ask legislators to support this striker without further amendment.

Let’s show our legislators, again, how strong our grassroots has become

Call/email right now requesting this bill get a YES vote on the floor!!

You can find your Senator’s email by clicking here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Example language:

 

Dear Senator:___________,

In regards to HB1762, I am requesting your support of Rep. Riccelli's striking amendment, and to ask for your YES vote when it comes to the Senate floor.  This striking amendment reflects numerous requested amendments from the insurance industry and I am requesting that you support this striker WITHOUT further amendment.   We have worked with insurance companies to address their concerns and feel this bill reflects those concessions but provides a bill that allows for  more transparent contracting between insurance companies and vision providers.  I look forward to your support!

 

Linda Medeski, OD