Quick update from the 2023 Legislative Session

Feb. 21, 2023

With Washington's legislative session just over one-third complete this year, there are numerous and mostly troubling pieces of legislation moving through the system. Here are our top 5 we are working on with legislators:

  • HB 1521/SB 5524 - imposing a duty of good faith and fair dealing on self-insured employers and third-party administrators. This duty is breached, in amended versions of these bills, if an employer or TPA "coerces" a worker into receiving less benefits than otherwise entitled, as well as in future violations to be defined by L&I in rule. The penalty for a violation could be up to 52 times the state's average weekly wage at the time of the assessment. On the Senate side, the amended version of this bill covers only "municipal" self-insured employers and their TPAs, and contains an unusual "three strikes and you're out" provision whereby an employer could be decertified from self-insurance if it receives three violations in a given three-year period. We are opposed to these bills.
  • HB 1068 - recording independent medical examinations. This bill would overturn L&I's rule prohibiting audio or video recording of independent medical examinations, and give workers a broad right to make audio or video recordings of their examinations without any prior notification to the exam provider or without the consent of the examiner(s). We oppose this bill in its current form and are attempting to educate lawmakers on the need for some prior notice and mutual consent to the recording in order to not disrupt or delay examinations.
  • HB 1593/SB 5454 - presumptive PTSD for direct care registered nurses. Patterned on the PTSD presumption created in 2018 for firefighters and other first responders, this bill would add direct care registered nurses to the exception for mental health related occupational diseases and then makes PTSD presumptive for this workforce. Unlike the first responders' presumption, at least in the House version, the bill only allows rebuttal of the presumption on a showing of "clear and convincing evidence." The bills also lack many of the conditions and sideboards evident in the first responders' PTSD presumption.

Stay tuned for updates on these and other legislative proposals as the session continues.