The 2023 state legislative session concluded Sunday, April 23. The final budget spends $69.8 billion in the 2023-2025 operating budget, including $4.7 billion in new spending. We are pleased to report that this was a very good budget for hospitals and health systems, as it makes significant investments in nearly all WSHA’s priority budget areas and funds substantial rate increases for long-term care and community behavioral health providers and health care coverage expansions. While we know there are significant challenges that remain for health care given the inflation and workforce pressures, this budget takes a large step forward.
The budget fully funds the Safety Net Assessment Program as passed by House Bill 1850 and negotiated between WSHA and the Legislature. The program’s Medicaid increases begin Jan. 1, 2024, and it will have been the first time in more than 20 years that urban hospitals have received a Medicaid rate increase. For patients stuck in the hospital, the Legislature funds multiple programs designed specifically to address the populations facing the most barriers to post-acute care placement and long-overdue increases to payment rates for Medicaid long-term care providers.
The budget also funds operation of 23-hour behavioral health crisis facilities and several programs to support individuals living with behavioral health conditions who have long-term care needs. The budget focuses heavily on behavioral health services for children and youth, including funding for the children’s partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient treatment program (PHP/IOP) Medicaid benefit that WSHA successfully advocated for last year. It also expands youth inpatient navigator teams and other transition services for children and youth with behavioral health and developmental disability diagnoses.
Further, the budget provides more than $24 million in funding to programs designed to grow the state’s health care workforce, including funding to join the nurse licensure compact, funds to implement the traveler transparency bill and more.
You can read more about the final budget in Inside Olympia. Also, be sure to join us for our members-only Legislative Summary webcast from 12-1 p.m. Monday, May 8, to learn more about the bills that passed this session and what you need to know to comply with newly adopted state laws.
WSHA Senior Director, Government Affairs