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Policy and Advocacy Blog

“Most of the workforce is white (and) affluent. With NAMI, we talk with people all over the state, and what I hear consistently from Latino communities, people of color, and minority communities is they want a provider that looks like them; someone from their own community so they can understand their struggles. And there’s a real lack of diversity in that workforce. So a lot of those communities don’t look for mental healthcare.”

— Nepomuceno

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Updated: Jun 23, 2023

On April 4 th , NAMI WA Board Member, Debbie Ranniger and Director of Public Policy, Anna Nepomuceno, had the opportunity to participate in Senator Patty Murray’s roundtable on behavioral health. Debbie shared her story with Senator Murray and we both asked for more federal funding for mental health, particularly for the 988 Crisis Response System, increasing the behavioral healthcare workforce and funding for the National Institute of Mental Health for their continued research. It was an honor to be a part of this amazing roundtable where we had the opportunity to speak to Senator Murray directly on Washington’s behavioral health needs. We want to thank Senator Murray for her commitment and continued support for improving our behavioral healthcare system.

-- Anna Nepomuceno, Director of Public Policy for NAMI Washington

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Updated: Jun 23, 2023

As with the nature of the legislative session, we must often adjust as bills move forward or come to a halt.

We have shifted our focus to the behavioral health workforce shortage because in order to implement many of the great behavioral health policies that we’ve

advocated for, we need to increase Washington’s behavioral health workforce and remove barriers that prevent people, especially those from marginalized communities, from entering the workforce. To address this issue, NAMI WA will now prioritize HB 1724: Increasing Behavioral Health Workforce. HB 1724: Increasing Behavioral Health Workforce makes it easier for people to enter the behavioral health workforce by offering targeted supports to new behavioral health professionals and making the process for licensure easier. We are also shifting gears in regards to behavioral health prescription drugs and focusing on continuity of care by adding SB 5300 to our priority list. SB 5300: Continuity of Care for Behavioral Health Prescription Drugs prohibits commercial insurance companies and state plans such as Medicaid, PEBB/SEBB from changing their formulary in the middle of a plan year and requiring patients to change their medication. SB 5300 also prohibits plans from increasing cost-share obligations for prescription drugs. The deadline to move these bills out of their House of Origin is March 8th . Contact your legislator now and ask them to support NAMI WA’s priorities! We have also included capital budget asks and updated the Medicaid rate increase. NAMI WA is prioritizing capital budget funding for community-based treatment facilities and the new Western State Forensic Hospital. We were also pleased to find out that the budget ask for the Medicaid rate increase for behavioral health providers is 15% instead of 7% and we have updated the legislative priority list to reflect the increase.

Lauren B. Simonds, M.S.W.

Executive Director/CEO

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