Social and Economic Policy
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, (360) 318-3443
The League at both the state and national level supports access to affordable and quality behavioral healthcare for all. Restrictions to access, and provider availability and reimbursement have always plagued behavioral healthcare. However, these issues have only been exacerbated recently given the shocks of the pandemic and social isolation.
During the last session legislation was passed addressing some of these issues, such as providing additional partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient services for youth, implementing a crisis hotline (988), increasing the availability of telehealth services, and establishing and funding minimum numbers of school nurses, social workers, and guidance counselors in schools.
In the upcoming session, it is likely that legislation will be introduced to increase the behavioral health workforce, facilitate access to behavioral health services in underserved areas and for underserved populations, provide behavioral health services in locations convenient and familiar to persons who might need those services (places such as schools and physicians’ offices), and provide additional behavioral health resources across the spectrum of care.
|House Bills||House||Senate||After Passage|
|Bill #||Bill Name (Brief Title)||League Position||Take Action||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||Passed Legislature||On Governor's Desk||Signed|
|HB 1134||Implementing the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system||Supports||||x
|HB 1155||Addressing the collection, sharing, and selling of consumer health data||Supports||x
|HB 1168||Providing prevention services, diagnoses, treatment, and support for prenatal substance exposure||Supports||||x
|HB 1188||Concerning individuals with developmental disabilities that have also received child welfare services||Supports||||x
|HB 1204||Implementing the family connections program||Supports||||x
|HB 1479||Concerning restraint or isolation of students in public schools and educational programs||Supports||||x
These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass.
HB 1134 Implementing the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system. This bill has several provisions regarding the 988 crisis hotline, mostly changes and enhancements due things learned during the initial implementation. It extends several dates related to reporting, and funding of the crisis call centers; establishes liability protection for activities related to the dispatching decisions of 988 crisis hotline staff, directs the Department of Health to develop informational materials and a social media campaign to promote the 988 crisis hotline, directs the University of Washington to establish a crisis training and secondary trauma program for personnel in the behavioral health crisis system, and establishes mobile rapid response crisis teams to respond to the 988 calls when needed.
HB 1155 Addressing the collection, sharing, and selling of consumer health data (aka, Washington, My Health, My Data Act). Generally, people assume that their healthcare information is private and this privacy is protected by a federal law, HIPAA. However, health data collected by certain apps and websites is not covered. This bill closes these gaps in privacy protections for healthcare data. Privacy is particularly important in regard to certain sensitive healthcare data such as reproductive health care, gender-affirming care, and behavioral health diagnoses. Exposure of an individual’s healthcare information could have negative consequences, and concerns about exposure might hinder someone from seeking health information or care.
HB 1168 Providing prevention services, diagnoses, treatment, and support for prenatal substance exposure. This bill would provide for increased access to services for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other prenatal substance disorders, as well as increasing prevention efforts.
HB 1188 Concerning individuals with developmental disabilities that have also received child welfare services. This bill provides that services through the Children's Intensive Behavior Support Services waiver may supplement the child welfare services that a child may be receiving; may be provided to children in out-of-home placement, and may be provided even if the family is subject to an unresolved child protective services referral. These are services that would be available to children who qualified if they were living with a parent and not in an out of home placement.
HB 1204 Implementing the family connections program. This bill establishes the Family Connections Program, a pilot program, as a permanent program. Currently, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families contracts with Amara to operate the program in King, Pierce, Mason, Clark, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Kitsap, and Skamania counties. The program facilitates interaction between a parent of a child who is dependent and in out-of-home care and the person with whom the child is placed. The facilitated contact benefits the child, the parent, and the foster parent.
HB 1479 Concerning restraint or isolation of students in public schools and educational programs. The bill prohibits students from being subjected to isolation, mechanical restraint, or chemical restraint by school staff except when there is imminent likelihood of serious harm. Isolation rooms must remain unlocked and must be phased out by January 1, 2024. School districts must carry out trainings and other activities to support the elimination of isolation and chemical restraint and to reduce the use of restraint in schools.
SB 5036 Concerning telemedicine. This bill extends the time frame (until 07/2024) in which real-time telemedicine, using audio or audio-video technology may be used. Telemedicine has provided increased access to medical and behavioral health services during the pandemic. This bill would extend these benefits.
SB 5120 An act relating to establishing crisis relief centers in Washington state. (Previously, Establishing 23-hour crisis relief centers in Washington state). This bill provides for the establishment of 23-hour crisis relief centers. These are community-based facilities open 24-7, offering access to brief care (<24 hours) for adults experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. They would accept walk-ins and drop-offs from ambulance, fire, and police.
SB 5130 Concerning assisted outpatient treatment. When deemed appropriate, this bill provides for a less restrictive mental health treatment option than inpatient hospitalization for persons who have been involuntarily committed.
SB 5189 Establishing behavioral health support specialists. These are companion bills. They establish the profession of behavioral health support specialist. To be eligible for this designation the person must have a bachelor's degree, have completed an accredited behavioral health support specialist educational program, and have passed an exam. The educational program must include a supervised clinical practicum. This person would practice under the supervision of a licensed behavioral health provider. Establishing this profession would increase the behavioral health workforce and free behavioral health professionals to work at the top of their scope of practice.