Though we are still a ways out, we’re excited to announce that we’ve already begun planning for the 2022 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference! After hosting this conference virtually for the last two years, we’re very much looking forward to hosting this event in person on September 8th at the Spokane Convention Center. You’ll find more details on the event below!
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State of Reform
1. State submits 1332 application to expand health coverage
The state of Washington submitted a 1332 Waiver application to CMS earlier this month, seeking the ability to expand health coverage to all residents regardless of immigration status. If approved, the waiver would allow all residents to enroll in health and dental coverage through the state marketplace and would allow newly eligible individuals up to 250% of the FPL to benefit from Cascade Care Savings.
Over 105,000 Washington residents (close to 25% of the state’s uninsured population) are unable to access health insurance due to their immigration status, according to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The state received 410 comments during the waiver’s state public comment period, with over 400 stating strong support. The waiver will next be assessed for completeness and will undergo a 30-day federal public comment period. The state has requested approval by August 1st.
2. Early Bird registration is now open!
In case you missed it, this week we opened up Early Bird registration for the 2022 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference! Through this conference, we aim to break down the silos of heath care and to bridge the gap between health care and health policy. We do this by curating multi-perspective conversations on some of the most timely and pressing topics facing Washington’s health system.
Our Convening Panel, which includes some of the state’s most thoughtful health care and health policy leaders, will meet in a few weeks to discuss the items that will form our Topical Agenda. Ahead of that meeting, we’d love to hear your ideas on the topics, speakers, or content ideas that you’d like to see at the event. And, if you already know that you want to join us on September 8th, be sure to take advantage of the discounted Early Bird price and register today!
3. Q&A: Sen. Manka Dhingra discusses the crisis response system
Ahead of Washington’s plan to implement the national 988 crisis call line in July, Sen. Manka Dhingra recently traveled to Arizona to learn about the state’s crisis response system. In this Q&A, Dhingra discusses what she learned during her trip and whether any of Arizona’s behavioral health practices might be useful in Washington.
Dhingra says the Arizona facility she visited has a “robust peer system” where individuals with lived experiences can offer support for those seeking care. She’d like to see peer support workers utilized in Washington. “A peer is in position to check in with patients over time, and that engagement leads people to seek treatment. Using them in different ways to do outreach makes them an important part of a care team,” she says. “A lot of this is about having a connection or lack of connection. I believe that’s a missing link in Washington.”
4. Initiative seeks to decriminalize drugs
The Commit to Change WA coalition recently filed a proposal for an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of controlled substances in Washington State. Selling or delivering drugs would remain a crime under Initiative No. 1922, and law enforcement would retain the authority to confiscate drugs. The initiative would also direct funding toward substance use treatment, prevention and outreach efforts, education, and academic studies.
In a conversation with Reporter Shane Ersland, Tacoma City Council Member Keith Blocker and Auburn City Council Member Chris Stearns—who are both Commit to Change Steering Committee members—discuss the initiative, the criminal justice system, recovery, and the impact of the war on drugs. Commit to Change WA members are currently working to collect the 400,000 signatures needed to put I-1922 on the general election ballot in the fall.
5. Delayed patient placements create challenges for hospitals
Patient assessments, resource availability, and workforce shortages can all play a role in delaying patient placements and requiring individuals to stay in hospitals longer than necessary. This is especially true in the long-term care system and for patients who are ready to be discharged from hospitals but are in need of post-acute care including skilled nursing facilities, adult homes, or nursing homes.
Washington State Hospital Association SVP of Government Affairs Chelene Whiteaker says delayed placements can impact hospitals’ ability to care for other patients. She says WSHA will request additional funding for long-term care service providers during the 2023 legislative session. “We applaud the legislative investments made in the 2022 session,” she said. “I think there’s a better understanding of the issue, particularly around the challenges long-term care raises for hospitals. It’s been a frustrating issue because the system is not working in the way it was designed. There’s still more to do.”