The legislative session started on Monday, and if anyone had any lingering holiday dust, it’s been shaken off now. New committee chairs are in place and committee hearings have begun.
After last year’s record-breaking long session, one of the hot topics is whether this year’s session will end on time. Everyone may be agreed on that intention, but the legislature has significant challenges ahead — especially around the McCleary decision on school funding and Initiative 1366.
On Tuesday, Claudia Sanders, Mary Kay Clunies-Ross and I discussed WSHA’s agenda for this coming year. (Click here to watch the recording.) High on our list, as it has been for several years, is mental health funding. We’re very grateful for the progress the legislature made last year in securing funding, and we want to continue to improve access to care with dedicated loan repayment, capital funds and improved access to state psychiatric hospitals. Those steps will make it easier to expand services where they’re needed most. We’re also working on flexibility for rural hospitals, pharmacy issues, construction for public hospital districts and more.
Legislative sessions can be long and stressful, but one of the things that keeps me energized is seeing how committed we are to making health care better in all of our communities. Although different stakeholders have different perspectives, there is a shared desire to improve quality, increase health and reduce cost in this state. Working with partners on those three goals — the Triple Aim of health care — is embedded in WSHA’s strategic plan and our shared purpose as a team.
We look forward to working closely with our members, legislators and partner organizations to advance the Triple Aim and improve the health of this state. And if we need you to come to Olympia or to contact your legislators, we hope you will.
Executive Vice President