In the Washington State legislature, both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the 2021-2023 biennium Operating Budgets. Legislators are now beginning negotiations for the final budget. The budget must be complete by April 25, the scheduled last day of the session.
The budget proposals reflect a dramatically improved outlook, buoyed by a positive revenue forecast and federal relief funds.
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Here are some of the interesting health tidbits in the budget proposals:
Medicaid represents the second largest General Fund Appropriation in both chambers’ budget proposals. The Senate has appropriated $21.65 billion, and the House has appropriated $21.89 billion.
Department of Corrections Health Care Services
In the House proposal, the Department of Corrections (DOC) Health Care Services, which was the subject of a recent Ombuds investigation, would receive $4.8 million for quality assurance and care navigation. These funds are provided to implement an integrated health services model with a focus of quality assurance and care navigation.
Also in the House proposal, DOC Health Care Services would receive $6.03 million for behavioral health treatment. These funds would expand the capacity of the DOC to screen offenders upon intake for treatment programs, to reduce caseloads for psychiatrists and psychologists for patient care, and to provide a continuum of care from total confinement through eventual release to the community through additional case management.
Health Care Authority (HCA)
In the budget appropriations for the HCA, there is $680,000 provided for the extension of postpartum health care in the Senate budget proposal and $14.25 million in the House version. This extension was created by SB 5068.
There is also $4.06 million dedicated to “modernizing and modularizing the Exchange’s information technology systems as cloud native solutions.”
In the HCA budget, the House also appropriated $40.35 million to fund the Child Care Premium Assistance Program for employees working in a licensed child care facility.
There were also reductions in funding in the HCA budget. For instance, Initiative 502, approved by voters in 2012, directed a portion of the revenue from taxes on the sale of marijuana into the Basic Health Trust Account. Both the House and Senate had $72.035 million removed from the line item “Low Income Health Care I-502.”
This is also the case with the line item titled “Community Health Centers I-502,” both chambers had removed $7.2 million from the funding for this item.
Department of Social and Health Services
In the Senate budget proposal, the Department of Social and Health Services was given $300 million for the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund. This money would fund a disaster assistance program for residents of Washington who are at least 18 years of age and have been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic after Jan. 1, 2021, and before June 30, 2022. Persons eligible for a grant under the program are not eligible to receive federal economic impact payments or unemployment insurance benefits due to their immigration status.
To view the budget proposals side by side click here.
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