Washington State Passes Bill Exempting Sales Tax on Complex Rehab Technology: A Testimony to the Power of Advocacy and Collaboration

Published in Government Relations on April 21, 2023

Congratulations to Don Whitney of Inland Medical and the PAMES state association, along with the entire state of Washington, on the recent passing of SB 5218. This bill exempts complex rehab technology (CRT) equipment from sales tax, making it more accessible and affordable for those in need of it. The road to passing this bill was not an easy one, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of many individuals and organizations, it has finally become a reality.

“SB 5218 is such a great success for DME providers like Don Whitney and the beneficiaries they serve,” said John Gallagher, VP of VGM Government Relations. “Hopefully in the future, we are able to replicate this success in other states.”

The success of this bill is a testament to the power of advocacy and collaboration. The PAMES Board, along with many other organizations and individuals, worked tirelessly to promote the bill and garner support for it. Senator Padden, Senator Mullet, and Senator Torres were instrumental in sponsoring the bill and rallying support for it in the Senate.

In 2022, PAMES attempted to exempt tax for all DME, CRT, and home medical supplies, but the fiscal impact was too high. They narrowed the focus to CRT products, following the suggestion of Sen. Padden “Lets take the first bite at this with CRT which has minimal Fiscal impact.  When we are successful, we can come back for additional use tax relief”. Members of PAMES reached out to their representatives and senators through emails, testifying, and in Committee Sign In, garnering over 150 pros in both the Senate and the House. Letters of support and testimonies from various organizations, including U.S. Rehab, AAHomecare, the Gleason Foundation, and the National MS Society also assisted in getting the bill passed unanimously through the Senate and the House.

The passage of SB 5218 is a significant victory for the citizens of Washington and for all those who require CRT equipment.

"Finally, those who need CRT equipment can receive it at a much more reasonable cost and not be impacted by the insurance payers who don’t pay for it," said Barb Stockert, executive director of PAMES. “This bill will help ensure that everyone has access to the equipment they need to live healthy, independent lives.”

It is also worth noting the personal relationships and connections that played a role in this bill's success. Don Whitney’s personal relationship with Senator Padden was invaluable in getting the bill passed.

"Having an open door allowed me to bring my talking points, and immediately he said he would help,” said Whitney. “From that moment, trust was already engaged. Communication, persistence, friendship, trust, and relay of information between Sen. Padden, myself, and to PAMES was crucial. Without a personal relationship, I do not believe this would have been possible.

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