As of last week, hospitals in Washington state were required to post their policies on reproductive healthcare, end-of-life care, nondiscrimination, charity care and admissions. Some of the information was still missing either because of a delay in complying or because the policies are in review, according to the State Health Department.
The new state rules also require a certificate of need whenever a hospital is sold, leased or transferred from one entity to another, a move opposed by the state's hospital association.
Washington state passed the law requiring public disclosure of the wide range of hospital policies in the wake of Providence Health & Services' 2012 deal to acquire Swedish Health Services, a not-for-profit secular system. That merger renewed the debate around reproductive health that sometimes follows Catholic-secular mergers.
While the deal allowed Swedish to retain its secular identity, local critics sounded the alarm after Swedish said it would stop performing elective abortions and instead outsource those services through a partnership with Planned Parenthood.
As of late last week, information was available on the Health Department website for most of the hospitals under the Providence umbrella, but not for Swedish. A spokeswoman for Providence said Providence and Swedish submitted separate policy documents to the Health Department on March 25 and posted the information on the hospitals' websites.
The Health Department implemented the new rules on Jan. 23 and gave hospitals 60 days to comply. The policies are available on the department's website and also must be posted on hospitals' own websites.
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