Medicaid is at the center of community behavioral health care. Nearly two million Washingtonians depend on Medicaid-managed healthcare plans to access care through the state’s Apple Health program, and at least 80% of people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders served by community-based providers rely on Medicaid. Ensuring that robust statewide network adequacy standards are developed for behavioral health is one of WSAC’s legislative priorities this year.

We want to guarantee that individuals in our communities have access to a network of providers that is sufficient in number and type to make services available to all clients without unreasonable delay.

Furthermore, current network adequacy standards are virtually non-existent for behavioral health. This results in gaps in access to critical services, which leads to difficulty getting into treatment, long wait times, and a failure to provide needed services.

To address these issues, we have been strongly supporting E2SHB 1515, sponsored by Rep. Macri, which will establish a robust framework for delivering the behavioral health care that Washington residents need and deserve, across all regions of the state, over the long term. The bill directs the Health Care Authority (HCA) to set robust new standards for the types and amounts of behavioral health services that are needed across the whole continuum of care in anticipation of the upcoming procurement process. These standards will drive strategic changes to address service gaps and increase access in every region of the state, such as bringing more providers into the Medicaid network and expanding access in underserved communities. Among other things, it will ensure that Washington’s managed care plans have the experience to address a wide range of behavioral health needs.

Last week, the bill was passed out of the House unanimously. The bill was heard in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee this week and has not yet been scheduled for executive action. We encourage you to reach out to your legislators and let them know that this bill is a crucial piece of our behavioral health system and ask for their support in moving this bill forward.

Policy Contact:
Juliana Roe
WSAC, Policy Director