Wash. Bill Would Create Incentive to Treat Uninsured

Wash. Bill Would Create Incentive to Treat Uninsured

News Feb 22, 2013

Feb. 22--OLYMPIA -- A bill introduced in the state Legislature this week aims to give doctors a new kind of incentive for treating low-income and uninsured patients.

Senate Bill 5825 was introduced by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, in partnership with three other Republicans and six Demo- crats, and would offer licensed medical providers the option to earn continuing education credits for treating low-income patients on Medicaid or providing free care to uninsured patients.

"There is a need to serve the underserved, and this bill really seeks to help those people that are uninsured or underinsured as well as providers," Brown told the Herald.

Medical providers would be allowed to earn continuing education credit for every hour spent providing direct care for patients and can satisfy up to 25 percent of their continuing education requirements by treating patients.

Physicians in Washington are required to complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years to renew their licenses, according to the state Department of Health.

Brown said doctors still will be required to complete classroom hours and other kinds of continuing education activities, which was a concern for some lawmakers when she started talking about the bill.

"This just allows them to get up to 25 percent of their credits from hands-on work," she said. "It combines the practical component with the educational classroom component."

She said the idea was born from conversations with providers in the Tri-Cities and wondering how to encourage more doctors to care for patients who are uninsured or on Medicaid, the state medical program for low-income people.

"This seemed to be a good solution on both sides," she said.

It also may be another way to tackle the issue of uninsured patients seeking care in emergency rooms -- an issue that has been identified as a priority by local health advocates.

Continue Reading

There are almost 39,000 uninsured adults under age 65 living in Benton and Franklin counties, and health advocates have said that people who lack health insurance are less likely to have a family doctor or seek preventive care that could help avoid more costly problems as medical conditions go untreated until patients are seriously ill.

If the bill becomes law, it also could provide an incentive for more local doctors to volunteer at places like Grace Clinic, a volunteer-run Kennewick clinic that provides medical, dental, counseling and pharmacy services to uninsured, low-income people -- many of whom have jobs but no benefits -- and gets almost 7,000 patient visits each year.

Marc Brault, the clinic's board president, said anything that encourages medical providers to offer their time would be a benefit.

"We always need more volunteers," he said. "There's always more demand than there is capacity."

Brown said she's trying to get a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee, but is racing against a deadline today for policy bills to be passed out of committees.

"I am hopeful," she said. "I'm doing as much as I can in the three weeks I've been here. ... If nothing else, at least we've begun the discussions. It is important to get discussions like this going on a bipartisan level."

Copyright 2013 - Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)
Michelle Dupler
The drill involving over 200 people put multiple first responder agencies to the test.
The training was based on lessons learned from the Columbine shooting and taught school employees safety and security measures.
One third of the state's record-high 376 overdose deaths that occurred last year were caused by prescribed painkillers.
The training will be focused on prescribing buprenorphine, the drug used to assist patients in quitting their opiate addiction and relieve withdrawal symptoms.
One of the paramedics was treated after getting hit with shards of glass after the bullet went through the windshield, but the ambulance is not believed to have been intentionally targeted.
The drones are used to improve scene management by assessing areas that are difficult or dangerous for personnel to reach.
Dozens of firefighters and police officers join the annual week-long Brotherhood Ride to honor 20 first responders who have died in the line of duty in Florida.
The event will be held on August 20, with all proceeds going to Narberth Ambulance, an agency that provides emergency services to 145,000 residents.
Speakers presented on topics such as disaster relief, emerging pathogens, the opioid crisis and cyber security.
The state's Department of Health has established an agreement for UNC and NCBP to collaborate on providing public health data to NEMSIS to better prepare EMS for national emergencies.
State troopers rendered aid before turning them over to responding EMS units and New Castle County Paramedics.
Three people were fatally shot and at least 21 others were wounded in separate attacks from Saturday morning to early Sunday.
Crestline Coach attended the Eighth Annual Saskatchewan Health & Safety Leadership conference on June 8 to publicly sign the “Mission: Zero” charter on behalf of the organization, its employees and their families.
ImageTrend, Inc. announced the winners of the 2017 Hooley Awards, which recognize those who are serving in a new or innovative way to meet the needs of their organization, including developing programs or solutions to benefit providers, administrators, or the community.