Prior to the end of the year, and in compliance with Governor Inslee’s directive, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) issued new hospital Certificate of Need (CN) rules and transparency requirements for existing hospitals.
Effective January 23rd, hospitals wishing to affiliate with one another (or other types of corporate restructuring) will now have to undergo full CN review. The new rules modify WAC 246-310-010 and adopt a broad definition of “sale, purchase, or lease” to include affiliations, corporate membership restructuring, “or any other transaction.” DOH, in response to the over 1,000 public comments received on these new rules (including the transparency rules below) explained:
The purpose of this clarification is to focus on the outcome of these transactions to bring them within CoN review. CoN evaluation includes review of the reduction or loss of services and the community’s access to alternatives if there is a reduction or loss.
In addition, DOH issued a modification to the hospital licensing requirements. This modification now requires hospitals to submit to DOH and publish on their own websites (“readily accessible to the public”) the following policies related to access to care: admission, nondiscrimination, end of life care, and reproductive health care. Hospitals must comply with this requirement no later than March 24, 2014. Hospitals that make changes to these policies must also notify DOH of those changes within thirty days.
Since the amendment to the hospital licensing rules require online access to hospitals’ nondiscrimination policies, now is an excellent time for hospitals to review nondiscrimination policies to be sure they are consistent with all applicable laws. Hospitals are “places of accommodation” under local, state, and federal nondiscrimination laws, which vary by jurisdiction. For example, federal law prohibits genetic discrimination, which is not covered by Washington state law; state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, and gender expression or identity, which are not covered under federal law; and the City of Seattle prohibits discrimination on the basis of political ideology, which is not covered under state or federal law. Hospital nondiscrimination policies should be tailored to cover all the jurisdictions in which you provide services. For assistance with drafting a nondiscrimination policy please contact Karen Sutherland.
For more information about the access to care policies or certificate of need generally please contact Elana Zana.