Washington hospitals

The state of Washington is just beginning the process of writing new rules to govern hospital mergers. But already there’s controversy over what role the state should play when religious health care providers propose to take over hospitals.

The pace of hospital mergers has picked up in recent years amid a climate of healthcare consolidation. Many of them involved Catholic-based providers. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other organizations are concerned this trend could limit access to end-of-life and reproductive services.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Unionized state workers are protesting a cost-cutting proposal to close five wards at one of Washington's mental institutions. More than a dozen employees staged a lunch-time picket Thursday outside Western State Hospital.