OLYMPIA – Two bills aimed at strengthening the patient-provider relationship have passed both chambers of the Washington State Legislature and now head to the governor for his signature.
Senate Bill 5887, sponsored by Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, would prohibit insurance carriers and benefit managers from requiring immediate prior authorization approvals for certain treatment visits if a doctor determines the visits are medically necessary. While this legislation does not completely prohibit the practice of preauthorization, it would allow physical therapists and other therapeutic professions to begin treatments for patients without delay, increasing the opportunities for better health outcomes.
Senate Bill 5601, co-sponsored by Short, seeks to regulate health and pharmacy benefit managers, requiring registration and reporting provisions under the oversight authority of the Office of Insurance Commissioner. Up until now, these benefit managers have not been directly regulated, yet were having a negative impact on patient health, access to care and the doctor-patient relationship.
“These bipartisan bills represent the culmination of years of researching, tireless effort visiting with patients and learning about the impacts of access to care,” said Short. “No longer will these benefit managers be able to do what they please and needlessly deny what physicians have prescribed for their patients. For too long, these entities have compromised patient care, needlessly threatening the very livelihood of our rural providers and pharmacies, endangering patient access.”