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Nathan Schlicher's Weekly E-News: Health Care-Related Bills Making Their Way Through Senate

The three bills are intended to help enable the best care for the patient, the Gig Harbor senator says.

 

Hello neighbors,

My day job is working in a hospital emergency department, so as you might imagine, improving the health care in our communities is an especially important issue for me.

I have seen the unnecessary steps our health care system puts people through, and I know we can do better. By making sure we are coordinating our efforts, not duplicating them, we can better help people in need and better use limited health care resources. In this newsletter, I would like to tell you about three bills I’ve proposed to do just that, and which received great public hearings in the Senate.

Senate Bill 5423 — Diabetes is one of the greatest health problems facing the country, affecting 29 million Americans and threatening another 79 million. This proposal would bring together three state agencies that deal with diabetes, helping to coordinate care for patients and to address the costs to state health care plans.

It would require state programs to report the costs associated with diabetes and recommend steps to improve coordination between the Health Care Authority and the departments of Health and Social and Health Services.

Senate Bill 5554 — This bill would build on the successful ER is for Emergencies Program, in which all hospitals in the state agreed to follow seven best practices to ensure patients are getting care in the most appropriate setting. The initiative responded to a call from the Legislature to address high emergency room use by state-insured Medicaid patients and is expected to save $31 million a year.

Under the bill, one of the hospitals’ best practices, sharing patient information on drug prescriptions to help identify possible addiction or misuse, would expand. The bill would give emergency room physicians real-time access to a patient’s primary medical treatment plan through the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, helping ensure people receive appropriate care in the right setting.

Senate Bill 5456 – This would improve mental health care by allowing physicians to request that a designated mental health professional present the case for detaining a patient. It clarifies the guidelines for of physicians, who may have to restrain and sedate a mentally ill person in an emergency, to seek proper treatment for behavioral issues that may not be evident at the time a mental health professional examines them.

The common theme in these bills is enabling the best care for the patient. Whether we are trying to treat diabetes before a person needs care in a hospital or working to get a mentally ill person the treatment they need to stay safe, the most important factor is delivering the right care at the right time, and the only way to do that is to share information before the crisis arises. Each of these bills will help us do that.

Stay in Touch

Because the Senate will soon be moving to floor action, in which we vote on measures before the full Senate, I will not be able to host District Day Corner Coffees in the next few weeks. But as soon as our schedule opens up a bit more, I look forward to getting back out there and meeting with you.

And, as always, if you have an idea or a concern, send me an email or give me a phone call. I want to hear from you.

Thank you,

Nathan

-Sen. Nathan Schlicher

Susan Cruver February 24, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Unfortunately, SB 5423, regarding diabetes, died in committee for purely political reasons. Hailed by lawmakers from both parties when it was introduced and co-sponsored by Republicans also serving on the Senate Healthcare Committee, it looked sure to pass out of committee. However, suddenly the Republican committee members, even the bill's co-sponsors (!), withdrew their support of a bill that would have improved services to diabetes patients in a cost-effective manner and it died in committee. Why? Could it possibly have been defeated just to limit Sen. Schlicher's success in his first session so Republican Jan Angel, whose legislative attempts would not result in good laws (drug testing for welfare applicants, shown to be very expensive while it demonstrated that few applicants were drug abusers when it was law in Florida; selling naming rights for structures like the Narrows Bridge, a bill that sounds cost-effective until you consider the costs associated with changing the name of a structure every five years) would have an easier road to victory in the November 2013 election for the last year of Derek Kilmer's term? Sure it was and it is extremely sad that such a good bill that would help so many people was killed just for the gain of the Senate's ruling Republican party.

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