State funding for local Group B Water Programs is in jeopardy and a supplemental budget request was made by the Department of Health (DOH).  DOH has provided funding for local Group B water programs for the last year.  This funding helped LHJs in NE Tri, Okanogan, Lincoln, Grant, Klickitat, and Grays Harbor establish their own programs.

Funding was also provided to LHJs with existing Group B programs to help them sustain and improve their programs.  Local programs can provide flexibility and benefits to this program that the state cannot provide – and both WSALPHO and DOH support Group B as a locally operated program.  There is concern that several LHJs will curtail their Group B programs unless state funding is provided.  The request is $1M ($500,000 per year) and was not included in the Governor’s budget.

HB 2639 (Rep. Buys) would exempt certain mobile food units from state and local regulations pertaining to commissaries or servicing areas.  On WSALPHO’s legislative call, participants thought that the intent of this bill is workable and will suggest minor language changes to add clarity. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on January 30th.

A variety of bills that respond to the state’s Opioid Epidemic continue to float around and be discussed. Friday’s cutoff will determine which vehicles will continue to be discussed and it is still anticipated that one of the Governor’s request bills (HB 2489/SB 6150) will be the vehicle that addresses the different approaches (treatment services, PMP, prescription limits, etc).

These bills are scheduled for executive action this week:  

HB 2489/SB 6150 is an opioid use disorder bill (Governor request ) that includes:  a focus on treatment and prevention, Naloxone standing order at DOH, improved data systems, and technology for overdosing and strengthening the PMP. This bill will most likely include agreed-upon provisions from the other opioid proposals.  State agencies, patient groups, and various medical associations generally support this bill over other similar proposals.

HB 2572 prohibits certain health plans and BHOs from requiring, under certain circumstances, an enrollee to obtain prior authorization for substance use disorder treatment. It Mandates coverage for up to 14 days of acute treatment and clinical stabilization services for substance use disorders.

HB 2586 concerns graded dosage packets for Schedule II and III drugs. “Graded dosage pack” means a clearly delineated three, five, or seven-day pharmaceutical regimen, that may include multiple strengths of the same narcotic packaged in a consumer-friendly, child-resistant form by the manufacturer. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on January 23.

SHB 1047 protects the public’s health by creating a system for safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications. Almost identical to local programs, the bill requires manufacturers that sell drugs in the state to operate a drug take-back program and to collect and dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs from residential sources. The bill is on the House floor calendar and is eligible for a floor vote. A handful of amendments will be entertained and only two are expected to be adopted: A sunset date of ten years will be applied and the local program will have 12 months, instead of 18 months, to fold their local program into the state program.  The sponsor accepted these amendments in order to attract more support for the bill.

Tobacco 21/Vapor Tax

HB 1054 (Rep. Harris) moved from House Finance Committee on a mostly party-line vote.  One republican (Rep. Nealey) voted with the majority to pass the bill. The fiscal note had been amended and reduced the note to $2.6 million in the first fiscal year.

HB 2165 (Rep. Harris) taxes vapor products, e-cigarettes, and nicotine products at 60%.  This bill also moved from House Finance Committee on a mostly party-line vote.  One republican (Rep. Nealey) voted with the majority to pass the bill.

SB 6048 (Sen. Kuderer) is identical to the HB 1054. The Senate Health Care Committee plans to take executive action this week.

SB 5025 (Sen. Miloscia) is the T21 proposal from last session. It is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on February 1.



Jaime Bodden

Jaime Bodden is the Managing Director for WSALPHO. Previously, Jaime managed and oversaw the operations of a small health department as Health Officer/Director. Additionally, Jaime has experience in community engagement, health promotion, global health, and health policy. She holds Master degrees in Social Work and Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis.