Gov. Inslee Cites Health Care Initiatives in State of the State

Insleewebsite1Gov. Jay Inslee highlighted education and transportation as top priorities in his State of the State address on Jan. 14, but he also put forward health care initiatives in three key areas: improving the health of children, the quality and cost of health care services, and better integration of mental health services.

In the area of children’s health, an accompanying policy brief outlines the Governor’s “Healthiest Next Generation Initiative,” aimed at helping children maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat well.

The policy brief notes that one of the factors that can influence a child’s weight is whether he or she was breastfed as an infant. One focus of the initiative will be to increase the percentage of children who are breastfed for at least six months by encouraging policies at work sites and early learning facilities that support breastfeeding.

The initiative also aims to increase the percentage of children ages 2 to 4 who have a healthy weight and will focus on working with early learning teachers and caregivers to boost physical activity and improve nutrition for young children.

The third aim is to increase the percentage of 10th graders with a healthy weight through policies that encourage physical activity and eating nutritious meals and snacks in schools.

Inslee also proposed that the state “take a page from President Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness and establish a Governor’s Council for the Healthiest Next Generation,” according to the text of his prepared remarks.

The Governor’s second health care initiative aims to address cost and quality in health care. An accompanying policy brief proposes several actions:

  • Develop standardized performance measures for cost and quality.
  • Provide cost and quality data to help consumers with decision-making and to improve care coordination and treatment decisions.
  • Align state health care purchasing between Medicaid and the Public Employees Benefit Board to ensure that care that is purchased meets performance measures.
  • Designate seven to nine regional service areas to serve as new Medicaid, behavioral health and public health procurement and planning areas, making it easier to collaborate for health improvement at the community level.
  • Create public-private partnerships called “accountable collaboratives for health” (ACH) at the local level to help communities reach health improvement goals and support innovation.

The third key initiative Inslee mentioned was better integration of mental health services. “I ask this Legislature to work with me on integrating care for people who are most in need so our mental health services, chemical dependency care and primary medical care all work better for patients and better for society,” Inslee said. “Better health care for the whole person leads to less homelessness, more people working and taxpayer savings.”

Inslee also called attention to the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which he called “a great bipartisan success,” noting that more than 250,000 Washingtonians have enrolled in coverage through the Washington Healthplanfinder. “That’s remarkable,” he said. “And we should be proud of it.”