Certain health care laws will be automatically waived or suspended during a future statewide state of emergency, under legislation that was signed into law today.

“When a pandemic hits, it’s important for our state to be able to move swiftly and surely to protect the public,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), the bill’s sponsor. “While the governor can waive statutes, this bill will save time and provide certainty to health care providers by making the waivers automatic.”

Senate Bill 5178 applies to certificates of need, facilities, and licensing when swift action could make a difference in protecting someone’s health.

“The coronavirus has shown us the need for guidelines to protect segments of the population that are particularly vulnerable, such as seniors in long-term care facilities,” Cleveland said. “Their unique combination of health factors and close living quarters increases the level of threat posed by COVID-19.”

Examples where the waivers might apply include: the construction, development, or opening of a new health care facility, or the reopening of a shuttered facility; or changes in bed capacity for a health care facility that increase the total number of licensed beds or redistribute beds among acute care, nursing home care, and assisted-living facilities.