September 25, 2023 – Washington’s community behavioral health system continues to face unsustainable pressures. Systemic funding issues have resulted in record workforce shortages impacting access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment for low-income individuals and families and other vulnerable community members.
Fortunately, this past legislative session, the Washington state legislature included a 15% increase in Medicaid / Non-Medicaid reimbursement in the state’s capital budget. This increase enables community behavioral health agencies to better recruit and retain the staff needed to deliver the mental health and substance abuse treatment programs our communities need. The funding is instrumental to ensuring that individuals and families across Washington have equitable access to care, which positively impacts our communities’ health and wellbeing.
Building on this critical short-term help, we need long-term solutions that will help make sure our system remains intact and keeps pace with our communities’ needs.
One of the most promising solutions, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC), is a nationally proven model for sustainably funding mental health and substance use treatment. As national leaders recently emphasized, more than 500 CCBHC sites have demonstrated strong outcomes across 46 states – and the model offers its greatest impact when adopted statewide.
Here in Washington, we see a systemic transition to CCBHCs as the gateway to supporting whole person health, proactively addressing the current workforce crisis, ensuring access to care for all, and reducing reliance on other community resources, such as hospitals and law enforcement, in responding to behavioral health needs.
While we and others are advocating for statewide system transformation, our member organization Comprehensive Healthcare is helping to demonstrate the impact of CCBHCs in Central Washington. The organization recently 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 will enable it 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. Specifically, the agency will use the grant to:
- Implement same day access and reduce the time it takes for an individual to secure an appointment, as timely access is a key component of the CCBHC model of care.
- Decrease the readmission rate for individuals discharged from a psychiatric inpatient treatment facility.
- Increase follow-up services for individuals who have experienced a mental health crisis, connecting them to ongoing services that will help them remain stable and work toward their goals for recovery.
- Increase staff training and knowledge of underserved and marginalized populations.
Fourfront Contributor is committed to supporting solutions that maximize Washington’s community behavioral health system. We urge you to join us in advocating for top-priority initiatives that expand access to behavioral healthcare, meet growing needs, and keep our communities healthy. To learn more about CCBHCs and to stay up to date on key issues, visit the CCBHC Adoption section of our website and contact your state legislators to ensure that they’re doing all they can to support access to sustainable community behavioral health solutions in your area.