PPE

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Health benefit plans would have to reimburse health care providers a set amount for personal protective equipment for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic under a measure signed Friday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Some providers in the state, including dentists, have been billing insurance for the extra protective equipment they’ve had to use during the pandemic. But not all insurers cover the fee, which means the extra cost falls to patients.

Under the measure, which was unanimously approved by both the Senate and the House, providers who bill insurance for protective gear as a separate expense must be reimbursed $6.57 per patient encounter. However, it doesn’t specifically prevent providers from billing patients for any costs that exceed that amount. The law does not apply to health care services not provided in person.

Because an emergency clause was part of the bill, the law took effect immediately upon Inslee's signature. The law will expire once the COVID-19 federal public health state emergency is declared over by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.