Simmons sends bill to enhance financial support for the Washington Physician Health Program to governor’s desk

OLYMPIA—Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, House Bill 1972, has sent a piece of legislation to strengthen financial support for the Washington Physician Health Program (WPHP) to the governor’s desk. 

“COVID-19 was stressful on everyone, but particularly for our doctors. They are facing growing mental and behavioral health challenges unique to their profession,” said Simmons. “During the pandemic and beyond, doctors have been there for our loved ones, caring for their needs and providing their expertise. This piece of legislation shows that we care about doctors and their needs, and it will support them as they navigate through challenges brought on by job stressors.” 

The WPHP is a confidential, therapeutic alternative to professional discipline and provides early intervention, assessment, treatment referral, and post-treatment monitoring for health professionals who may not be able to practice safely due to impairing or potentially impairing health conditions such as substance use problems and cognitive and neurological conditions. 

This piece of legislation will harmonize fee schedules across diverse healthcare disciplines, fostering efficiency and uniformity in financial structures. Periodic adjustments in surcharge fees are highlighted as indispensable to cope with inflationary pressures and secure the long-term sustainability of the program. 

The increased funding will facilitate service expansion, outreach initiatives, and the overall well-being enhancement of healthcare professionals statewide. Failure to implement these adjustments could lead to program cuts, potentially compromising the quality of care extended to practitioners. 

HB 1972 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, on Feb. 6 and Feb. 22, respectively.