Behavioral health highlights in Washington’s recently passed Capital and Operating budgets

Quote from Sen. Dhingra:

“Budgets are values statements, and the behavioral health investments made this year sends a clear and strong message to Washingtonians that lawmakers will address the behavioral health needs of people around the state. We are shifting how we talk about and treat behavioral health disorders.

“We are investing in a continuum of care while making sure that our state builds robust programs to meet people where they are at. We can no longer be a crisis focused state. It is time to build for the future.

“What is laid out in this budget package boils down to responsible governing. We can balance a budget while also investing in programs that give Washingtonians a full-spectrum of behavioral care starting at birth. By taking care of the needs of all our communities in a holistic manner up early on, there will be less of a burden on the taxpayers later on.”

The 2019 behavioral health budget investments will help pay for the following projects and programs: forensic mental health care, adolescent behavioral health,  geriatric behavioral health, psychiatric payments in rural areas, behavioral health integration, children’s mental health, UW’s behavioral health campus, arrest & jail alternatives, substance use disorder treatment system, substance use disorder professionals, behavioral health facilities, recovery support services, and adolescent behavioral health.


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Capital Budget Investments

Community-Based Behavioral Health Beds ($119.9 million)

  • The Department of Commerce is provided $47 million for a competitive process to expand community-based behavioral health services.
  • $70.9 million is provided for community-based projects for a variety of behavioral health services including long-term civil commitments, triage, crisis diversion, detox, and adolescent services.

Mental Health State Facilities ($154.4 million)

  • The University of Washington (UW) is provided $33.2 million for predesign, planning, and design of the new 150-bed Behavioral Health Teaching Facility
  • An additional $500 thousand is provided for UW for predesign of a facility for the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Hospital.

The Department of Social and Health Services is provided funding for the following behavioral health projects:

  • $58 million for patient safety enhancements, preservation, and ward renovations at Eastern State Hospital and Western State Hospital
  • $1 million for predesign and siting of a new forensic hospital
  • $28.7 million for construction of two new forensic wards providing 60 additional forensic beds at Western State Hospital
  • $8 million for a new Treatment and Recovery Center at Western State Hospital.
  • $25 million for predesign, design, siting, and site work of two state constructed community civil bed facilities; one providing 16 state-operated civil beds and one providing 48 mixed-use beds of which 16 beds would be state-operated civil beds.


Operating Budget Investments

The Senate operating budget increases behavioral health spending by $350.5 million over the next two years in the following ways:

Hospital Operations – $70.0 MILLION 

  • Funding is provided to cover increased staffing costs necessary for the current state hospital operations at Western State Hospital, Eastern State Hospital, and the Child Study and Treatment Center.

Trueblood Settlement – $74 MILLION

  •  Funding is provided for services required for phase one of the settlement agreement under Trueblood et al. v. DSHS concerning the provision of inpatient forensic services within court-mandated timelines by funding diversion and outpatient restoration services.

Western State Hospital Safety Measures – $21.9 MILLION

  • Funding is provided to improve the safety for patients and staff through increased training, more security guards, the enclosure of nursing stations, and the implementation of a STAR ward for patients with increased behavioral issues.

Community Long-Term Inpatient Beds – $47.3 MILLION

  • Funding is provided to contract with private community hospital and evaluation and treatment beds to provide long-term inpatient care for individuals on 90 and 180-day commitments. These beds are intended to replace beds at the state hospitals over time.

Enhanced Discharge Placements – $32 MILLION

  • Funding is provided for enhanced bed rates to create available beds in settings such as adult family homes, assisted living facilities, enhance service facilities, and nursing homes to create discharge placements for individuals coming out of state hospitals.

Expanded Community Services and Beds – $35.3 MILLION

  • Funding is provided for services and beds in the community to meet increased needs and provide more appropriate services for individuals with behavioral health needs. Services include items such as intensive outpatient treatment, clubhouses, intensive behavioral health facilities, wraparound services, assertive community treatment, and suicide prevention.

Both budgets were passed by the legislature and now go to Governor Inslee’s desk for signature.

This press release was provided by the Washington Senate Democratic Caucus.