Q&A: Sen. Judy Warnick on SBs 5807 & 5412


Aaron Kunkler


Sen. Judy Warnick sits on the Senate’s Behavioral Health Subcommittee. This session, she introduced two bills dealing with behavioral health and increasing supports to people in behavioral health and other treatments in the state. State of Reform spoke with Warnick to get her thoughts on the bills. 


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Aaron Kunkler: Two pieces of legislation you’ve sponsored this year are SB 5807 and SSB 5412. What are they, and how would they improve behavioral health in the state?

Sen. Judy Warnick: First of all, SSB 5412 is a supportive relationships bill that was introduced last year that got a little more complicated than we intended. I’ll just announce now that I’m going to go back and rework that one. That was the one on supportive relationships to give families more involvement in treatment of family members, and children that are in treatment. It just got a little too involved with trying to get to who was a supportive relationship and what age we should be looking at. We’re going to revisit that next year. 

The next one is SB 5807. Rather than taking on all behavioral health systems all at once, we thought that we would start this year with the hospitals, and kind of coordinate the programs that are already in place in a couple of the hospitals. [It would create a] Bureau of Family Experience. It might be another government entity, but it’ll help families to know where to go to get some information about their family members, and what can be done while their family members are in … treatment as patients.

One of my constituents has said this over and over, that a child in treatment means a family in treatment. When a child or even an adult child is placed in a facility that sometimes doesn’t feel like the families are able to be involved. I’m hoping that by instituting this Bureau of Family Experience, that we can partner with a program that the University of Washington is doing through Dr. Kopelovich and some of her colleagues. 

I was on a call this morning, and we said we’ve never had so many PhDs testify on one bill through this committee, because there were quite a few doctors and UW associates that weighed in on this, but I know there’s some concern. The bill got a great hearing and very, very strong support. But there was a little bit of concern about some privacy guidelines. So we’re going to try a substitute match up with the federal guidelines around HIPAA and where there are concerns about medical privacy…

So it’s gonna be substantially the same bill with just a few changes to address those concerns. But I’m excited about working with the University of Washington, they have a very strong program right now. The three major hospitals that we are focusing on are Western State, Eastern State, and then the child study and treatment center, just trying to help get more information, more help to families who have a family member in treatment.