This week, the Washington State House and Senate released their proposed supplemental budgets for the remainder of the 2021-2023 biennium. There is currently a budget surplus from increased tax revenue, remaining federal pandemic relief funds, and savings from money not spent on policy changes last year.
As a result, the Legislature added significant new funding in transportation, K-12 education, rental assistance, homelessness initiatives and substantial investments in health care. The final budget will be released by March 10, following negotiations between the House and Senate.
WSHA is pleased that between the Senate and House budgets, WSHA’s priorities for health care are nearly all funded. Due to WSHA’s advocacy over many years, both the House and Senate budgets provide significant funding to address long-term care, difficult to discharge and hospital throughput issues.
Our top priorities for supporting health care in the supplemental budget include:
- Health care workforce education and pipeline — Both the House and the Senate proposed funding to support the development or addition of nursing education opportunities in our state, as well as mobile simulation training labs for educational use.
- Difficult to discharge – Investing in the long-term care system to ensure patients who are ready to discharge have an appropriate place to receive long-term services and supports during the pandemic and beyond. Both budgets fund each of WSHA’s difficult-to-discharge priorities in some form.
- Behavioral health – Improving the behavioral health system of care across the continuum. Both budgets make significant investments in behavioral health, including WSHA’s top priorities. The main difference is the House did not fund partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient treatment program pilot expansion.
- Washington Medical Coordinating Center (WMCC) – Sustaining the WMCC through the biennium so it is ready to level-load patients across the state during an emergency, such as another COVID-19 surge. Both budgets fully fund the WMCC for the remainder of the biennium.