Advocacy in Action: Recapping State of Reform’s 2023 Inland Northwest Health Policy Conference 

In September, Fourfront Contributor participated in State of Reform’s Inland Northwest Health Policy Conference in Spokane, connecting with other healthcare leaders, lawmakers and policy experts to highlight the most pressing issues across the spectrum of behavioral health and medical services. 

Tom Sebastian, CEO of Compass Health and member of Fourfront Contributor, joined Jane Beyer, senior health policy advisor for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and Angela Sparks, chief medical officer, community and state, for UnitedHealthcare Washington, on a panel focused on current and future initiatives to address behavioral health capacity in Washington state.  

During the panel discussion, Tom spoke to a handful of initiatives, including statewide adoption of the CCBHC model. For providers to keep pace with escalating demand for behavioral health services, we need a systemic solution that will resolve deep-rooted programs within Washington state’s behavioral health system, and Fourfront Contributor sees that solution being statewide adoption of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, or CCBHC, model. You can read more about Fourfront Contributor’s advocacy surrounding CCBHCs here

While the CCBHC model offers a promising solution to addressing the current workforce crisis, providers are taking innovative approaches to fill gaps to improve access to care now.  

For example, in 2022, Frontier Behavioral Health launched an innovative new program to empower bachelor’s-level professionals as part of the outpatient care team. The Collaborative Alliance for Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) model differs from the traditional behavioral workforce model – relying on employees who have at least a master’s degree in social work, psychology, or counseling – and invests heavily in employees who have bachelor’s degrees to address the workforce shortage and facilitate upward mobility for the Frontier outpatient behavioral health staff members. Find more details about the model, here.  

As we work to modernize the way that community behavioral health is funded to expand access to care, providers are also focused on making capital investments to ensure the facilities that provide care are welcoming – for clients and staff.  

Compass Health is putting this into action with its Broadway Campus Redevelopment, which will transform an entire block in Everett, Washington to create a state-of-the-art center that will serve the Northwest region of our state.  

While we and others continue our advocacy for statewide system transformation, Comprehensive Healthcare is helping to demonstrate the impact of CCBHCs in Central Washington. This summer, the organization secured a $4 million CCBHC Planning, Development and Implementation (PDI) grant for Walla Walla County to help improve access to mental health and substance use care.  

The grant highlights Comprehensive Healthcare’s proven track record in meeting community needs and enables the organization to continue to thrive by improving its processes for community outreach, completing initial screenings and assessments, providing treatment and care coordination, and supporting rehab recovery.  

This is not the first time Comprehensive Healthcare has been awarded a grant to pilot CCBHCs. In 2020, the organization received a $1.99 million CCBHC Expansion Grant as a result of its strong continuum of care, which it has continued to strengthen over the past three years.  

Learn more about Comprehensive Healthcare’s plans for its most recent CCBHC planning grant here.  

Hear from Tom Sebastian, other healthcare providers and Washington state leaders in the 2023 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference: What You Missed video below: