COVID-19 Funding Bill and Regulatory Request

COVID-19 Funding Bill and Regulatory Request

In response to the current Coronavirus situation, the legislature introduced HB 2965, which would appropriate $50 million into the disaster response account. This money can be used to support state agencies and local governments in disaster response and recovery efforts. The bill unanimously passed in the House on Tuesday night with an amendment to increase the appropriation from $50 million to $100 million. The bill will immediately go to the Senate and it is expected to pass by unanimous vote.

Among other things, the bill gives the department authorization to determine payments to nursing facilities responding to the coronavirus outbreak. It ensures facilities are provided adequate resources to keep residents safe while responding to the state of emergency. The additional payments will not be subject to the current payment methodology and will not be calculated in the statewide average payment rate.  

While there is targeted funding to skilled nursing, the funds received by DSHS and DOH may be flexibly used to address critical needs to manage, treat and contain COVID-19.  

In addition to the emergency funding, LeadingAge Washington has also reached out to healthcare leaders in the legislature asking for regulatory and nursing relief in this critical time. 

We are asking that HB 2376, the Nurse Compact Act, be reconsidered. To care for our residents and others around the state in the wake of COVID-19, we will need an influx of nurses. Due to the current shortage, those nurses will need to come from out of state. While we have been notified the Department of Health is prioritizing temporary permits to healthcare professionals, it is still taking up to 14 days to finalize. The nurses are required to pay a licensing fee. LeadingAge believes that joining the Nurse Compact is still the most appropriate and more timely course of action, particularly during emergencies such as COVID-19. 

We are also asking the survey of certain facilities to be suspended at this time so the focus can be on preparation and management pf COVID- 19. It will also help limit outside visitors coming into your facility, reducing the risk of exposure. Further, we’ve asked that certain regulations be suspended such as limiting visitor access to residents, the 3.4 hours per resident day of staffing and 24/7 RN requirements when staff are out sick or are helping manage other patients in other care settings, supply shortages when the facility has done everything within reason to obtain needed supplies and other related regulations that may be triggered as a result of COVID-19. These requests have been communicated with DSHS. 

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Alyssa Odegaard- Vice President, Public Policy 

p: 253.964.8870 |