Please call your WA State legislators and ask them to support House Bill 1655.
This is important and urgent. Read on to find out why.
Over the past 10 years health insurance premiums have gone up and up every single year. And during that time deductibles and copays and other costs have gone up and up as well. Over the past 10 years total medical costs have more than doubled for many households.
So how much of these increases do you think have been passed on to the clinicians providing the healthcare services you receive? The answer, at least for small independent clinics like Heart of Wellness, is NONE. Zero.
Over the past 10 years insurance reimbursements for every single medical service provided by every single type of clinician at Heart of Wellness have either stayed the same or in many cases have actually gone down.
Please pause for a moment and let this sink in. Over the last 10 years your total medical costs have likely doubled, and that money has certainly gone somewhere, but absolutely NONE of it has gone to increase what doctors and other clinicians in small independent clinics are being paid.
Over this same 10 year period the costs of doing business have increased substantially, year after year. As a result many clinics like ours have had to close their doors. And many others have been bought out by hospitals and hospital groups that can afford to negotiate with insurance companies in ways that smaller clinics cannot.
Think about all the small businesses you have seen closing down over the past few years. Now imagine if the remaining small businesses had not been able to raise their prices for 10 years, despite expenses going up and up every year. Would they still be open? That is exactly the situation that small independent clinics like ours are in. After 10+ years of this small independent clinics are at a breaking point.
In order to stem this tide of small clinic closures a bipartisan bill was recently introduced into the WA State House. It would require insurance companies to provide annual “cost of living” increases to what they pay independent clinics for covered services. It would be a small change but for many independent clinics it could make the difference between closing and being able to stay open.
This bill is known as House Bill 1655. Here is the introduction to the bill:
“(1) The legislature finds that: (a) The costs to operate and maintain a health care practice by health care providers continue to rise and often may exceed consumer price inflation; (b) Significant vertical and horizontal consolidation in health plan markets has given health carriers ever greater bargaining power over individual health care providers and small clinics who have little or no opportunity to meaningfully negotiate compensation to cover overhead costs; (c) Despite increasing costs, many health care professions have experienced no increase in the contracted rates for the health care services provided to carrier enrollees for several years; and (d) According to a 2020 American medical association survey, nearly 40 percent of patient care physicians were employed directly by a hospital or a practice owned at least partially by a hospital or health system, an increase from just 23.5 percent in 2012. (2) Therefore, the legislature intends to encourage competition and health care market diversity by requiring health carriers to annually adjust the compensation offered to health care providers not employed by hospitals or affiliates of hospitals in an amount that reflects inflationary cost increases, thereby deterring the further consolidation in health care delivery markets arising from the abandonment of private practices to employment by hospital systems. “
You can find out more about House Bill 1655 here:
We strongly urge you to contact your state legislators immediately and ask them to support House Bill 1655.
Your voice could make the difference in keeping small independent clinics alive.
You can find out who your legislators are here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/
If enough concerned citizens speak up we might see real change.