Social and Economic Policy
Behavioral Health

Everyone should have access to affordable, quality behavioral healthcare across a full spectrum of services, from preventative care to inpatient hospitalization, with a workforce sufficient to provide these services.

Issue Team Chair: Mary Lynne Courtney,, (360) 318-3443
 DOWNLOAD the Behavioral Health Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Contact Mary Lynne Courtney

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Overview of the 2024 Legislative Session

During the 2023 session the Legislature passed many bills addressing behavioral health issues. Among these bills were ones that:

  • Addressed workforce shortages
  • Ensured access to substance use disorder treatment for incarcerated persons
  • Enhanced the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system and establishing 23-hour crisis relief centers
  • Provided for continuity of coverage for prescription drugs prescribed for the treatment of behavioral health conditions during an insurer’s plan year
  • Increased access to services for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other prenatal substance disorders, as well as increasing prevention efforts

In spite of these accomplishments, more needs to be done. Priorities for the upcoming legislative session are:

  • Increasing the behavioral health workforce.
  • Increasing access to behavioral health services in underserved areas and for underserved populations.
  • Providing behavioral health services in locations convenient and familiar to persons who might need those services, places such as schools and physicians’ offices.
  • Ensuring access to behavioral health services at every level across the spectrum of services, from preventative care to inpatient hospitalization

If there is a major update on a bill, action chairs may want to write up a report detailing changes or summarizing debate in committee.

2024 Behavioral Health Legislation

Priority Bills

Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

HB 1881
/SB 5821 Establishing a uniform standard for creating an established relationship for the purposes of coverage of audio-only telemedicine services. This bill establishes a uniform standard for audio only telemedicine services by expanding the time period in which a healthcare provider has seen the patient in person or a through video and audio telemedicine appointment It also removes the expiration date for real-time interactive patient appointments using both audio and video technology. 

HB 1889 Allowing persons to receive professional licenses and certifications regardless of immigration or citizenship status.  This bill removes citizenship requirements for professional licensure, but all other requirements must be met.  This would help address workforce shortage issues.  

HB 1929/SB 6050 Supporting young adults following inpatient behavioral health treatment. Provides supportive transitional housing for young adults (18-24) exiting inpatient behavioral health treatment. The focus is on securing long-term housing. 

HB 1939 Adopting the social work licensure compact. This bill provides for Washington State to join a Social Work Licensure Compact.  The Compact would allow licensed social workers to practice across state lines under a Compact privilege. This would help address workforce shortage issues. 

HB 2145 Concerning medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder. Requires that insurance covering hospital, medical, or surgical services must also cover mental health and substance use disorders. 

HB 2239 Supports student well-being through instruction in social-emotional skills.  

HB 2245 Establishing co-response services and training as an essential component of the crisis continuum. This bill provides for the development of a training program for co-responders as part of a comprehensive crisis response system.  

HB 2247 Addressing behavioral health provider shortages. Establishes a new category of provider, Licensed Psychological Associate, for students pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology.  They may practice only under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. This would help address workforce shortage issues.  

SB 5853 Extending the crisis relief center model to provide behavioral health crisis services for minors. This expands the services of crisis relief centers to adolescents, individuals 13 to 18. Adolescent services would be separate from adult services.  

SB 6144 Establishing a prescribing psychologist certification in Washington state. Extends prescribing privileges to psychologists with special training and supervised experience in prescribing medication. This would help address workforce shortage issues.  

HB 2241 Prohibiting puberty blocking medication, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries for minors. The League supports access to healthcare for all. This is most appropriately a decision to be made by the minor and their parents in consultation with a physician and other healthcare providers.

Other Bills
Bills in green are supported. Bills in red are opposed by the League. Bills in black the League is watching.

SB 5866 Protecting the continuity of teletherapy services. This bill requires that organizations providing telehealth services give providers six months’ notice prior to cancellation of these services. 

How To Be Involved

  • If you are interested in a particular bill, use the links above to go to the webpage for that bill. These pages include staff summaries and reports including who testified PRO versus CON on the bill. There is also information about how to access videos of hearings that have been held. 
  • Read and take action through the LWVWA Legislative Action Newsletter, distributed each Sunday during the legislative session.
  • Local Leagues in Washington have action chairs who coordinate action teams. Some local Leagues have health care teams to take action locally. Contact your local League action chair to find out and join.
  • You may also express your opinion on legislation with the LWVWA issue chairs. We will take your perspectives under considerations as we determine our support for legislation and prepare testimony. Contact Mary Lynne Courtney, Behavioral Health Issue Chair.
  • Another way to be involved is to join the Healthcare Affinity Group meetings on Zoom. The group meets every six weeks during the legislative session. If you are interested, please email Kim Abbey for the date of the next meeting and a link.

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