Frontier Behavioral Health Thanks State Leaders 

July 13, 2023

Recently, Frontier Behavioral Health (FBH) leadership and staff came together with luminaries in Spokane, Wash., to personally thank Washington State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, Reps. Marcus Riccelli, Timm Ormsby and Leonard Christian as well as Senator Mike Padden and other state leaders for their historic support for community behavioral health.  

From left to right: Sen. Mike Padden, Rep. Leonard Christian, Spokane City Council member Betsy Wilkerson, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, FBH CEO Jeff Thomas, and Sen. Andy Billig. 

In the 2023 Washington legislative session, lawmakers approved a significant 15% increase in Medicaid and non-Medicaid funding for community behavioral health agencies statewide. The funding increases are critical for FBH and other providers to address ongoing workforce shortages by providing much-needed increases in compensation for staff.  

“I cannot tell you, I cannot overstate, the importance of these increases and the impact they are going to have on our ability to provide services for our community. It’s absolutely almost unthinkable,” said Jeff Thomas, CEO of FBH. “We are eternally grateful to our legislators for giving us their ear, and over the last number of years they have provided a tremendous amount of support for community behavioral health. But during this last session, they really stepped up.” 

Lawmakers also supported legislation that expands the use of telehealth. This creates opportunities for bachelor’s-level staff and peer support specialists to work with clients, create compacts with other states to encourage professional recruitment and develop strategies to retain staff members amid a historic workforce shortage in the community behavioral health sector. 

Riccelli and Billig addressed the crowd, which included local elected officials, community partners and members of the Evergreen Club. 

“It’s a little awkward to come to these events because the work you all do on the ground is really holding everything together,” Riccelli said. “We know we have to do better. First and foremost, we need to support the type of services that Frontier and other agencies provide. We appreciate the extreme challenges associated with the workforce shortage. It’s top of mind,” he continued.  

Billig praised Thomas for his advocacy work on behalf of FBH and as a member of the Washington Council for Behavioral Health and Fourfront Contributor. 

“Jeff, part of the reason we were able to do all that you mentioned is because, as legislators, we deal with thousands of issues and we can’t possibly be an expert on all of them, and so we rely on trusted partners in the community to help us understand what’s needed on the ground to best serve our community and you’ve done a great job and you deserve a lot of credit for the accomplishments,” Billig said. 

FBH is a nonprofit trauma-informed care organization that provides clinically and culturally appropriate behavioral healthcare and related services to individuals of all ages in collaboration with community partners. FBH prioritizes the delivery of services for individuals and families who are at high risk, high need or publicly funded. Learn more via the organization’s website here.