The health and well-being of a state’s population are closely tied to the effectiveness and reach of its public health initiatives. Sometimes, these initiatives might be explicitly public health-focused, while others might have public health implications. An effective public health budget will ensure that initiatives have the resources needed to combat disease, reduce health disparities, and promote healthy behaviors. Both the Senate and House budgets highlight the legislature’s role in promoting and protecting the health of its citizens. Below are several budget highlights that will enable public health to implement policies and programs to keep Washington safe, healthy, and thriving.
Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS):
Local health’s joint decision package request for continued expansion of Foundational Public Health Services was included in both budgets at $100 million. Continued investments in FPHS ensure that core public health programs are implemented consistently across the state. This future investment would continue to build up and modernize local health jurisdictions’ capacity to provide the public health services on which our communities, businesses, schools, and healthcare systems depend. We are grateful that the Legislature supports the work of public health and supports all people, places, and communities in Washington.
Water; Increased funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will support improvements to current and future drinking water systems, protecting residents on both public and private water sources so that the water they consume is safe from harmful toxins.
Group B; funding is maintained to support LHJs with a local Group B water program. Local programs can adopt localized policies and procedures for ensuring safe drinking water for smaller and rural communities.
LSWFA; Funding is maintained to support solid waste programs which protect our waterways and environments from hazardous materials, illegal dumping, and contamination of pollutants.
Prevention and Health Promotion:
Home Visiting: Increased funding will allow local home visiting programs to connect and serve more families in Washington State. Home visiting programs strengthen family resiliency in the child’s first years and connect families to other support networks.
Suicide Prevention: Included in the Senate Budget – maintaining funding that supports suicide prevention work with particular attention to veterans, tribes, and youth.
Food Security: Included in the House Budget – maintaining the expansion of the WIC fruits and vegetables program that connects WIC participants to local farmers, and increased access to free lunch for students across Washington.
Access to Care:
Care Coordination: Included in the House Budget – maintaining funding to continue social and health care coordination hubs that work to connect individuals needed comprehensive care options to health and social service providers.
Health Care for Uninsured Adults; funding is increased to expand coverage for residents with income at or below 250% of the federal poverty line.
Small Rural Hospital Payment; funding is provided to increase inpatient (by 20%) and outpatient (by 100%) payments.
WSALPHO, Policy Director