Short bill to ensure patients receive benefits they’re owed now in House

OLYMPIA… A proposal by Sen. Shelly Short to ensure access to health-care benefits is being considered by the House after receiving strong Senate approval.

Senate Bill 5887 aims to ensure patients receive benefits for which they have already paid through their health plans. The proposal, which addresses concerns about prior authorization of care, was passed 45-2 by the Senate earlier in March. 

A related law made by the Legislature in 2018 allows six visits for a patient, without prior authorization, when those visits are a medical necessity and within health-plan limits. However, supporters of Short’s proposal say insurers, through benefit managers, need more guidance because of problems experienced by patients and providers.

“To say that I was frustrated in the response by insurers is an understatement,” said Short, R-Addy. “Again, this is about patients’ access to the treatment that they have already paid for through their health plan. It’s about timely access to care within plan limits and with the referral of a treating physician. I worked very hard to strike a good balance.”

If SB 5887 becomes law, health carriers could not require a patient to have prior authorization for the first six visits. Short’s legislation covers a multitude of health-care practices, including, but not limited to, massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy. The health carrier would be required to provide rules and regulations on its website that can easily help a patient sign up online.

SB 5887 was recently heard in the House Health and Wellness Committee.