Legislative Update

Mar 30, 2023
Written by WR Communications

HB 1155 — My Health, My Data

House Bill 1155, relating to health data privacy, has been a focused piece of legislation for retailers this session. The bill seeks to protect sensitive healthcare data not currently covered by the federal HIPAA Law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The legislation is extremely broad as presently written and would unintentionally include many non-sensitive healthcare products and services, such as numerous over-the-counter medications, vitamins, health foods, health-related clothing, devices, and tools.

WR supports consumers having access to and control of their personal data. However, as currently drafted, this bill will be problematic for retailers to clearly identify what is and isn’t covered—leaving them exposed to unwarranted lawsuits and legal actions.

Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-48-Bellevue) is the prime sponsor of HB 1155. The bill was voted out of committee March 22 and is awaiting final vote by the full Senate. It will need to return to the House for concurrence before going to the Governor for signing.

The effective date has been extended out to a year, making it effective March 31, 2024, rather than 90 days after adjournment. Regarding enforcement, the per se violation language was removed, which would have allowed any consumer “injured by a violation” to bring an action if all required elements of a Consumer Protection Act (CPA) were established.

SB 5187 & HB 1140 ORC Task Force Funding – Operating Budget

WR met with the House and the Senate budget writers regarding funding for the Attorney General’s ORC Task Force. The House included $1.13 million in their budget proposal this week and the Senate included in their budget $2.265 million for the 2023-25 biennium, and $3.02 million for the 2025-27 biennium. This week, in a letter to Rep. Ormsby, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Mark Johnson, WR VP of Policy & Government Affairs encouraged the House to agree to increase the funding for the ORC Task Force as the Senate recommended. Johnson clarified the funding would “allow the Attorney General to increasese his efforts by hiring the needed staff to deter and prosecute major ORC rings.” WR continues to support full task force funding.

SB 5171 Gender Price Discrimination

SB 5171 addresses gender price discrimination and was amended to align with similar laws in New York and California, making gender-based pricing illegal. The bill was filed by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, following a presentation by six Kirkland high school students, claiming that studies had shown that prices for personal care products marketing to women are 13% higher on average than products for men. The bill passed out of the Senate and had a hearing before the House Consumer Protection and Business Committee on March 21. Rose Gundersen, WR VP of Operations & Retail Services, provided comments on behalf of WR, testifying to the fact that pricing is primarily determined by manufacturers and should be exempt from the “business” definition in the bill. The bill was scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Business on Tuesday of this week but did not come up for a vote and appears will not likely receive further consideration this session.

WR has significant concerns with compliance and wants retailers to be removed from the language as they should not be held responsible for manufacturers’ differential pricing.

HB 1068 Injured workers’ rights during medical exams

HB 1068 concerns injured workers during independent medical exams. In the workers’ compensation system, a claim manager representing a State Fund or self-insured employer can request for an injured employee to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). These assessments are utilized to decide if a claim should be allowed or re-opened, to resolve new medical issues, support appeals, determine case progress, and evaluate a worker’s permanent disability or work restrictions. IME examinations are performed by medical providers approved by the Department of Labor and Industries.

HB 1068 would allow an injured worker to record video of IMEs using their phone or any other recording device during an exam by one person of the worker’s choosing.

WR is working with the chair, Karen Keiser (D-33), and the Senate on an amendment requiring consent from a doctor and the patient and advance notice to both parties that any recorded video must be securely stored.

The bill came out of committee last week. Two amendments were offered by the Senate Committee Chair, Karen Keiser to remove the prohibition on the recording of neuro-psychological exams and prohibit the worker from materially altering a recording or posting it to social media. The Senator also removed the amendment that would require a worker to provide written notice to the examiner no less than seven days to receive consent to do the filming. WR hopes that amendment will be added on the floor.

WR opposes this bill as L&I predicts it may result in scheduling setbacks if a provider refuses to grant permission for audio or video recordings, particularly among mental health professionals. Moreover, the bill could contribute to escalating expenses, as any postponement in delivering services to injured employees could amplify future disability and claim-related costs.

The bill was voted out of the House last month, had a hearing before the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce last week, and now awaits a vote of the full Senate. It will have to return to the House for concurrence.


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