Washington Insurance Commissioner extends COVID-19 emergency orders to April 28

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is extending two COVID-19 emergency orders through April 28, according to Thursday press release.

Kreidler’s first order extension requires health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for anyone that requires testing for COVID-19.

The second extension order will protect people from receiving surprise bills for lab fees after being tested for COVID-19. This order applies to laboratories in-state and out-of-state.

Mike Kreidler (Office of the Insurance Commissioner)

"Consumers are rightly concerned about prevention, testing and possible treatment," Kreidler said in a statement Thursday. "My emergency order provides guidance to health insurers and should help reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to protect them." 

According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, all insurers must continue allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs. In addition, all insurers must continue suspending any prior authorization requirement for COVID-19 treatment and testing.

Kreidler has the ability to extend these orders through Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 statewide emergency, which remains in effect.

Inslee's state of emergency has been in effect for two years. He first issued the order on Feb. 29, which allowed him to mobilize the Washington National Guard, implement mask mandates, enact stay-home orders, fire state employees for not getting vaccinated, and determine phased reopening strategies in the state’s "Safe Start" and "Washington Ready" plans.

During the pandemic, Inslee has exercised unilateral power with little legislative oversight, some state lawmakers say—and more are slowly unifying to limit those powers.

In recent months, bi-partisan legislation was introduced to curb Inslee's emergency powers. 

Two bills, HB 1772 in the House of Representatives and SB 5039 in the Senate would put either a 60- or 30-day limit on the length of an emergency declaration. Anything beyond that would require legislature to be consulted before additional emergency declarations are made.

The bills did not get voted on in the latest legislative session. 

Stay connected with FOX 13 News on all platforms:
DOWNLOAD: FOX 13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: FOX 13 News Live
SUBSCRIBE: FOX 13 on YouTube
DAILY BRIEF: Sign Up For Our Newsletter
FOLLOW: Facebook Twitter Instagram