Gov. Inslee released his 2022 supplemental budget Dec. 16. WSHA applauds the governor’s efforts to invest in critical health care areas. The budget provides necessary investments for health care in Washington State, such as temporary transition funding from federal pandemic programs, but more is needed to create a path to sustainable access to services across the state.
Workforce. One top priority issue for the hospital association is long-term investment in the development of a sustainable health care workforce. The governor’s commitment to address worker shortages is reflected in the establishment of a nurse preceptor grant program for nurses who are willing to supervise students in health care settings and investment in expansion of nursing simulation labs. The budget falls short of funding other initiatives, such as funding expanded allied professional training, which would support community colleges in expand other high-shortage positions, such as respiratory therapists and surgical technicians.
Long-length of stay patients. WSHA appreciates the governor’s proposed investments to help non-acute patients who are stuck in the hospital gain access to care in more appropriate settings. These patients need access to long-term care, and hospitals need to free-up capacity to care for patients who really need acute care services. However, more substantial and sustained investments are necessary. WSHA will continue to advocate for sustained investment in the long-term care system to ensure a problem that was exacerbated by the pandemic does not return when funding runs out.
Behavioral Health. The hospital association is pleased to see the governor’s focus on funding to improve behavioral health services across the continuum of care. Especially important in the budget are the investments that expand access to behavioral health treatment for youth and young adults.
Washington Medical Coordination Center. WSHA applauds the proposal to fund the Washington Medical Coordination Center (WMMC) through the rest of the biennium. This resource is crucial to balancing patient loads across the state during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The hospital association would like to see the WMCC funded on a longer-term basis to balance capacity related to non-COVID seasonal and regional surges.
WSHA plans to release a more detailed analysis of the governor’s budget Dec. 17. We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to achieve our shared goal of a strong and sustainable health care system to serve our communities.