Lawmakers seek to expand opportunities for more kidney dialysis centers in Washington


Legislator: Rep. Richard DeBolt
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A House committee is considering legislation that would make it easier for more kidney dialysis centers to be built in Washington state. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

Sattgast: State law now requires that before a kidney dialysis center is constructed, renovated or expanded, it must obtain a “Certificate of Need” from the state. It’s a somewhat complicated permitting process in which the proposed facility must demonstrate a community’s need for the service.

State Representative Drew MacEwen of Mason County has introduced legislation that would eliminate the certificate of need requirements for kidney disease centers. The 35th District lawmaker says the existing process discourages kidney dialysis centers from being built, especially in rural areas of the state where there are few facilities to serve kidney patients.

MacEwen: “And this they spend a lot of time traveling. And that adds to the time requirement of the multiple days a week that they need to go and do this. And then, talking with various providers and looking at the cost of going through the Certificate of Need, and the time burden, it pulls back the effort on many providers to go down this path and have new centers built.”

Sattgast: During a hearing Tuesday in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, some providers defended the existing process, saying the bill could lead to oversupply of dialysis centers. However, the bill’s co-sponsor, Lewis County State Representative Richard DeBolt said patients in rural areas should not be denied services because of protections against competition.

DeBolt: “I get your goal is laudable, but I also believe that when we put protectionism in place for things that are around people’s health, it gets a little concerning to me.”

MacEwen and DeBolt say the committee could take action on the bill as early as Friday. John Sattgast, Olympia.

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