Gov. Inslee releases his comprehensive behavioral health plan

December 11, 2018

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee released a behavioral health plan for the state. This is a preview of his investments in behavioral health that will be in his proposed 2019-2021 budget, which will be released later in the week. WSHA has been very active in advocating for increased funding for behavioral health and developed a comprehensive 10-Point Behavioral Health Plan to highlight areas of need. We are pleased the governor proposes to fund all major budget items in WSHA’s 10-point plan. This announcement is a significant turning point for behavioral health in our state, which has been underfunded for years.

Behavioral health funding will be a major area of discussion and action during the 2019 legislative session. WSHA is supportive of the direction of this revised plan to increase capacity and access between now and 2027. The plan proposes to develop more than 900 civil commitment beds. Back in May, the governor announced that he planned to close Western and Eastern State hospitals to civil commitments by 2023. WSHA will continue to work to understand the details of the new proposal.

The governor’s investments in behavioral health reflect the input of WSHA and other stakeholders. He proposes to invest $404 million in operating and $271 million in capital expenditures for 2019-2021:

Expanding behavioral health treatment options

  • More than $30 million in community services – such as intensive outpatient services, partial hospitalization services and intensive wraparound services – to prevent hospitalizations and readmissions for patients who need immediate treatment but are not in need of involuntary detention .
  • $40 million to expand community alternative placements – such as long-term care facilities and state-operated living facilities – and create new facility types for individuals who no longer need treatment but have high behavioral health needs.
  • Investing in substance use disorder treatment by increasing provider rates for secure withdrawal management and stabilization facilities across the state.

Appropriate community-based facilities

  • $35 million for community providers to serve patients committed under the Involuntary Treatment Act.
  • $110 million for capital grants to community hospitals and community providers to expand civil commitment capacity.
  • $31 million for capital to begin work on state-operated civil behavioral health facilities. Of this, $23 million is for predesign and design for four 16-bed and two 48-bed facilities, and $8.3 million is for the predesign of three 150-bed facilities.
  • $2 million for capital predesign of a new behavioral health-focused teaching hospital at the University of Washington.

More housing support

  • $35 million in rental assistance for permanent supportive housing services to an estimated 1,000 vulnerable individuals. Priority will be given to patients being discharged from the state hospitals.
  • $20 million in capital funding in the Housing Trust Fund for permanent supportive housing for people who suffer from chronic mental illness.

Workforce development

  • $4 million to create a new behavioral health conditional scholarship for 50 students who commit to working in high-demand behavioral health fields in state hospitals and state behavioral health community sites.
  • Adds five psychiatric residency positions at the University of Washington’s psychiatry residency program.

Continued investment in state hospitals

  • $56 million for building improvements and critical infrastructure at Western and Eastern State hospitals.
  • $7.5 million to conduct predesign for a new 500-bed forensic hospital. (The intent is to pursue about $25 million in the 2021-2023 budget and $528 million in the 2023-2025 budget for construction.)
  • Nearly $47 million to construct two new wards and a modern treatment space at Western State Hospital.

Full budget details of these behavioral health items will be available on Thursday, when the governor releases his entire 2019-2021 budget proposal. WSHA will provide updated information on his behavioral health items, along with other budget items then. In December, the governor is required to produce a two-year budget for the upcoming biennium. The House and Senate will release their respective budgets during the legislative session.


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