New Washington Department of Health Regulations

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On December 23, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health (the “Department”) adopted two regulatory changes that impact hospitals. As discussed below, one change impacts Certificate of Need (CoN) review when there is a change in the control of a hospital.  The second regulatory change requires hospital disclosure of patient access policies.

Certificate of Need Review Required In Connection with the Sale, Purchase, or Lease of a Hospital

The Department amended the CoN rules to clarify that a change in control of a hospital, whether by sale, purchase, lease, affiliation, corporate restructuring, merger, or other arrangement is subject to CoN review. This was accomplished by revising WAC 246-310-010 to define the phrase “sale, purchase, or lease.” The regulation now defines a sale, purchase or lease as:

“any transaction in which the control, either directly or indirectly, of part or all of any existing hospital changes to a different person including, but not limited to, by contract, affiliation, corporate membership restructuring, or any other transaction.”

The term “person” was revised by adding the words “public or private” to the existing definition.  As revised, the new definition of a person is an “individual, a trust or estate, a partnership, any public or private corporation (including associations, joint stock companies, and insurance companies), the state, or a political subdivision or instrumentality of the state, including a municipal corporation or a hospital district.” (Addition underlined.)

New Patient Disclosure Requirements

In addition, WAC 246-320-141 (Patient rights and organizational ethics)[1] was revised to require hospitals to provide the Department with the hospital’s policies related to patient admission, nondiscrimination, end-of-life care, and reproductive health care (and update the Department when these policies change). The hospital must make these policies available on the hospital’s website, and the Department is required to post the hospital’s policies on the Department’s website.

The first hospital reporting is due to the Department on March 24, 2014; this is also the deadline for the posting on the hospital’s website.

Notes:

[1] The new regulatory language reads as follows:

(5) No later than sixty days following the effective date of this section, every hospital must submit to the department its policies related to access to care:

(a) Admission;
(b) Nondiscrimination;
(c) End of life care; and
(d) Reproductive health care.

(6) The department shall post a copy of the policies received under subsection (5) of this section on its web site.

(7) If a hospital makes changes or additions to any of the policies listed under subsection (5) of this section, it must submit a copy of the changed or added policy to the department within thirty days after the hospital approves the changes or additions.

(8) Hospitals must post a copy of the policies provided under subsection (5) of this section to its own web site where it is readily accessible to the public, without requiring a login or other restriction.

 

Topics:  Certificate of Need, Healthcare, Hospital Mergers, Hospitals

Published In: Health Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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