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Washington state law to boost hospital transparency

May 4, 2021 GMT

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — State hospitals in Washington state must now report additional financial and patient demographic information to the state under a new law intended to increase transparency.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law on Monday that requires state hospitals to provide information, including reports about charity care and emergency aid, to the state Department of Health, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Tuesday.

The law will be implemented in stages over the next two years.

The state Department of Health has until January 2023 to revise its annual financial reporting system so hospitals can submit additional information in their financial reports.

The department is expected to include additional financial categories for blood supplies, contract staffing, information technology, repairs and maintenance, staff recruitment, taxes and more. New revenue categories include donations, joint venture revenue, parking, rental income and more.

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All hospitals must report expenses and revenue in these categories once they are added.

The health department will also develop guidance on reporting funds from federal, state or local governments during a national or state-declared emergency, such as coronavirus aid.

State hospitals have until January 2023 to adjust their electronic health records so their patient discharge information will include more information. Smaller hospitals will be able to receive grants so their systems meet the requirements under the law.

Unions, patient advocates and other supporters of the bill have said the legislation will give residents more information about state hospital spending and how funding influences decision-making. Patients have said more information is needed to determine if grants and other funds are effective and being used to meet health care needs.

Most Republican lawmakers voted against the bill, including those from multiple districts in Yakima Valley, the Herald-Republic reported.

The law also requires the state health department to conduct a study by September 2022 with the University of Washington to analyze hospital staffing and its impact on patient mortality and outcomes. The department will then pass on the study to legislative committees by October 2022.