Governor signs Rep. Caldier’s hospital notification bills into law

Two hospital notification bills authored by 26th District State Rep. Michelle Caldier were signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 1016, would require hospitals to notify a rape victim within two hours of their arrival that they don't have rape kits or a provider trained in sexual assault examinations on the premises.

Caldier said she doesn't want another sexual assault survivor to sit around in a waiting room for hours after one of the most traumatic experiences of their life, only to learn the hospital is not equipped and or trained to provide the proper help.

“It was inexcusable that a local hospital failed for hours to tell a rape victim they have no sexual assault kits and do not do that kind of evaluation. By the time she arrived at the right hospital and the sexual assault evaluation was performed, nine hours had passed,” said Caldier, R-Port Orchard. “Personally, I think the hospitals should have to tell victims the minute they arrive whether or not they can provide the appropriate evaluation. However, the two-hour requirement was the best we could get through the Legislature.”

Caldier was also frustrated the bill was amended in the Senate to remove $2,000 penalties for hospitals that do not comply. Instead, the amended bill requires individuals to be notified by the hospital they can file a complaint with the Department of Health if the hospital exceeds the two-hour rape kit notification rule. It also would require hospitals that do not provide rape kits to develop a plan by July 1, 2020 to assist victims in finding a facility with appropriate providers available.

“Senator Emily Randall tried to help me restore the penalty in the final bill, and I appreciate her efforts. Unfortunately, we were not able to get it back in. Although the measure is not exactly what I was hoping for, it is a step forward to help sexual assault survivors,” said Caldier. “Hopefully, this sends a strong message to hospitals we are paying attention and this should never happen again.”

House Bill 1607, also signed into law, would require a written notice be given to the state attorney general at least 60 days before the effective date of a hospital or provider organization acquisition or merger.

“This is good consumer protection legislation that grew out of the merger and acquisitions in 2016 involving CHI Franciscan, The Doctors Clinic and WestSound Orthopaedics in Kitsap County. Their acquisition created a monopoly that prevented some patients seeking specialized care from getting that care anywhere else,” said Caldier. “Once CSI Franciscan eliminated their competition, they jacked up the rates and then privately bragged about it among themselves. This bill would require the attorney general's office to be notified in time to determine if there are any anti-trust concerns to prevent monopolies and keep an open market.”

A federal lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against CHI Franciscan claiming anti-trust violations is expected to be settled within the next two weeks.

“Patients seeking help at their local hospitals or health care providers are already vulnerable. They look to these providers in good faith and put a lot of trust into them to provide the care they need. Overall, we have great health care providers. However, these types of incidents from a few bad actors erode the public's trust, even against good providers,” said Caldier. “That's why this legislation is important to say we won't tolerate this further. I'm glad we could get these bills signed into law for patients.”

Both measures become effective July 28.

PHOTO: Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, (far left) watches as Gov. Jay Inslee signs House Bill 1607. The measure requires a written notice be given to the state attorney general at least 60 days before the effective date of a hospital or provider organization acquisition or merger. 

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov