The 2017 Washington regular legislative session officially adjourned on Sunday, April 23rd. However, Governor Jay Inslee immediately called the Legislature back into special session to negotiate a solution to the 2017-2019 operating budget. The House and Senate remain far apart on the total spending amount and funding mechanisms for the budget. WSHA priorities for mental health system funding will be part of the negotiations. Resolution is unlikely before June. The legislature will also continue discussions on budget-related policy items including paid family leave and balance billing.
We expect that a compromise will include some additional spending beyond the Republican budget and not all the taxes included in the House budget. While the House budget included a B&O tax increase for hospitals, we are not expecting it to be carried forward into the compromise solution. A compromise budget may include a proposal to have the state develop a single preferred drug list and a pharmacy benefit manager for Medicaid patients. This was included in both the House and Senate budgets. We will be sending additional information shortly to ascertain the impact this could have on use of the 340B program for Medicaid patients. In the meantime, the governor will be busy signing policy bills that passed during the regular session, including WSHA priorities on extension of the safety net program, reducing opioid abuse, mental health care coordination, the WHRAP program, Certificate of Need exemption for psych beds, joint self-insurance for hospitals, the interstate medical licensure compact, and others. (Chris Bandoli, firstname.lastname@example.org)