House gives bipartisan OK to legislation standardizing charity hospital billing practices throughout the state

Lawmakers in Olympia are considering legislation to level the playing field for hospital patients throughout the state.

SIMMONS: “Two point two million Washingtonians, the constituents, the people that we are here to represent, are struggling every day.” [:07]

That’s Washington state Representative Tarra Simmons on the virtual House floor in Olympia, urging colleagues to approve a bill standardizing the way hospitals in the state provide and bill for services to low-income patients. It’s currently based on the luck of the geographic draw. The same patient with the same condition might receive subsidized care in hospital A, while hospital B 20 minutes away would have sent that same patient a ten thousand dollar bill, over and above what their insurance covered.

SIMMONS: “There are teachers in my district, and grocery store workers, and even healthcare workers, giving their heart and soul to serve us in this pandemic, who cannot afford their hospital bills. This bill will provide affordable healthcare to over two point two million Washingtonians in need of care.” [:17]

Simmons, a Democrat, hails from Bremerton and represents the 23rd legislative district. Her House Bill 1616 passed out of the House Wednesday with a two-to-one bipartisan margin and now heads to the Senate for further study. Lawmakers have until March 10 to approve the bill and send it along for the governor’s signature.