The state Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released its budget March 21, marking one of the milestones of this year’s legislative session. We are pleased with the Senate budget, which does not include any cuts to hospital-based clinics and funds several important health care priorities, including the Hospital Safety Net Assessment, post-discharge placement for complex patients and nursing home care in small, rural hospitals.
The biggest shifts in funding approaches are in the areas of mental health, as it attempts to address some of the underlying problems with the system. Making improvements for patients in the mental health system, both in hospitals and the community health setting, has been a high priority for WSHA and our members, and we are very pleased to see funding and needed reforms. Specifically, the budget decreases state hospital beds, moves patients to community hospitals and invests in payment for mental health offered in a collaborative care model. Click here to read WSHA’s full budget analysis from Inside Olympia.
This Republican-crafted budget does not count on the same amount of new revenue as the governor’s budget, or as the Democrat-controlled House budget is expected to have. The Senate is likely to pass its budget this week, and the expectation in Olympia is that the House will release its budget next week and follow a similar pace.
We will keep you posted on what the House budget contains and what it means for you and your patients. Meanwhile, we will continue to track and testify on our high-priority bills — including bills on balance billing and duty to warn for mental health providers — as we continue to advocate for a regulatory environment that supports healthy communities.
WSHA Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Government Affairs