5 Things Washington: ‘Commitment to Reproductive Freedom,’ Q&A w/ Vince Porter, 988 launch


Emily Boerger


In this edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” we feature conversations on the future of home-based health care services, the soon-to-launch 988 hotline, and state leaders’ reactions to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

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Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. Q&A: Vince Porter, Regence Health Policy Center

Vince Porter is the Director of the Regence Health Policy Center. Formerly the health care innovation hub Cambia Grove, the new policy center aims to inform and advance policies that promote affordable and accessible care. In this Q&A, Porter discusses thbenefits of home-based care services and what the end of the public health emergency might mean for the health care system.

Porter says the end of the PHE could mean the reversal of several flexibilities and innovations made possible during the pandemic. “Letting these programs expire—specifically Hospital at Home waivers—at this juncture would set everyone back a few years on research, data analysis, and process improvements. This is a pivotal moment and key opportunity that could help move the ball closer to a quality, community-based health care system that improves access and decreases costs for patients.”


2. Western states announce ‘Commitment to Reproductive Freedom’

Following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California issued a Multi-State Commitment to Reproductive Freedom. During a press conference Saturday, Gov. Inslee and other state leaders discussed potential measures to strengthen access and support for abortion providers and patients.

These measures include: pursuing a constitutional amendment to solidify the right of choice in Washington, dedicating $1 million in funds to ensure reproductive care clinics can provide care, ensuring hospital mergers don’t result in loss of access to abortion care, and issuing an executive order directing the Washington State Patrol to refuse to cooperate with abortion-related investigatory requests from agencies in states that don’t allow abortion. Washington is one of 16 states that have codified the right to abortion, and is one of just 4 states that have laws preventing lawsuits against abortion providers.


3. 988 crisis line set to launch July 16th

Ahead of the July 16th launch of the 988 suicide prevention line, State of Reform caught up with Michele Roberts, Assistant Secretary for Prevention & Community Health at the DOH, for a conversation on the benefits of the hotline, the services that will be available, and next steps in improving Washington’s behavioral health crisis response services.

Roberts says the new hotline will create a distinct but coordinated system with 911. “We know that the vast majority of people seeking help from the [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline] do not require additional interventions. Fewer than 2% of NSPL calls require connection to emergency services like 911,” said Roberts. “The 988 coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.”

4. HCA to distribute $100 million to BH providers

The Washington State Health Care Authority held an informational meeting this week to discuss its plans to distribute $100 million to behavioral health providers to address workforce challenges. The HCA will receive the funds, which come from the 2023 supplemental community behavioral health budget, on July 1st.

During the meeting, Behavioral Health Policy and Programs Supervisor Kimberly Wright said the funds could be used for workforce retention and recruitment, child care stipends, student loan repayment, tuition assistance, relocation expenses, and costs incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Community behavioral health providers contracted and receiving payments through an MCO or BH-ASO are eligible for the funds. HCA intends to provide funding notifications in August, with payments sent to providers by Sept. 30th.


5. Panel discusses impact of trauma on men’s health

A multi-perspective group of speakers discussed the impact of trauma, societal norms, and economics on men’s health during a recent DOH panel in recognition of Men’s Health Month. During the conversation, former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin discussed how trauma, and an unwillingness to talk about trauma, is a key issue impacting men’s health.

DOH Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah added that societal norms can result in men internalizing their difficult experiences. These unchecked feelings, he said, can provoke negative methods of dealing with pain, including acts of violence. “We’re not doing enough for our next generation,” Shah said. “What are we teaching our sons? What are we doing to prevent them from reliving trauma that we ourselves have lived? … Shame on us if we do not, and cannot, and will not do more.”