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Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses
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Legislative Update: March 2018

The legislature passed its final 2018 supplemental operating budget and adjourned sine die on Thursday, March 8. Throughout the session, AAPPN and its lobbyists worked with several mental health care organizations, including:

  • Volk Clinician/Attorney Workgroup
  • WSNA
  • ARNPs United
  • WPA
  • WSSCSW
  • NAMI

The final supplemental budget included funding for mental health access and for addressing the opioid epidemic. To further evaluate the impacts of the Volk Decision, the budget also funds a workgroup at the Bree Collaborative to identify best practices for mental health services regarding patient mental health treatment and patient management.

Issues in this legislative session covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • Access to mental health and mental health response teams
  • Outpatient civil commitment
  • Mental health for children and youth and child forensic interviews
  • Opioid prescriptions and addiction treatment

Several of the bills that AAPPN supported or monitored passed during the session. A brief recap of these successful bills is below.

CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH

Student Mental Health
2SHB 1377 specifies the roles and duties of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Requires first-class school districts to provide a minimum of six hours of professional collaboration time per year for school counselors, social workers, and psychologists that focuses on recognizing signs of emotional or behavioral distress in students, beginning in the 2019-20 school year. Establishes the Professional Collaboration Lighthouse Grant Program, through August 1, 2020, to assist school districts with early adoption and implementation of mental health professional collaboration time, subject to funding by the Legislature.

Children’s Mental Health Services Consultation Program
SSB 6452 directs the Health Care Authority to convene stakeholders and submit a recommendation to the Legislature and the Children’s Mental Health Workgroup by December 1, 2018 regarding: an alternative funding model for PAL; and, a strategy to ensure that expanded PAL services do not duplicate existing Managed Care Organization requirements. It also creates a two-year pilot program between UW and Seattle Children’s to create PAL for Moms and Kids – a hotline to help parents and providers with child mental health referrals. The Partnership Access Line (PAL) is a telephone-based child mental health consultation system for primary care providers. PAL is staffed by child psychiatrists affiliated with the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital to deliver its consultation services.

Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Children & Youth
E2SHB 2779 reestablishes the Children’s Mental Health Work Group through the year 2020. It also allows provider reimbursement for supervision and partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment programs; and directs the Health Care Authority and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to develop strategies for expanding home visiting. Additionally, it directs an advisory group to make recommendations regarding parent-initiated treatment. This bill also requires the delivery of mental health instruction in two high school pilot sites.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

Improving the Behavioral Health of People in the Agricultural Industry
2SHB 2671 establishes a task force to review options to improve the behavioral health status of agricultural workers and reduce suicide risk. It also establishes a pilot program related to behavioral health and suicide prevention in the agricultural industry based upon task force recommendations.

Outpatient Behavioral Health
ESSB 6491 makes changes to the assisted outpatient mental health treatment standard, criteria, and process. Makes changes to less restrictive alternative treatment services. It allows for the revocation of less restrictive alternative treatment orders entered on assisted outpatient behavioral health treatment commitment grounds. Beginning April 1, 2018, this bill authorizes a court conducting a review of a designated crisis responder’s decision not to detain a person under the Involuntary Treatment Act to order a person to involuntary outpatient treatment.

MENTAL HEALTH – LEGAL & LAW ENFORCEMENT

Child Forensic Interviews and Child Interview Digital Recordings
ESHB 2700 exempts audio and video recordings of child forensic interviews that depict or describe allegations of child abuse, child neglect, or exposure to violence from the Public Records Act except by court order upon a showing of good cause and notice to the child’s guardian. Requires that audio and video recordings of child interviews disclosed in criminal or civil proceedings are subject to a protective order unless the court finds good cause that the interview should not be subject to such order; a violation of this order is subject to a civil penalty up to $10,000.

Mental Health Field Response
HB 2892 creates the mental health field response team grant program (program), administered by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The purpose of the grant program is for assisting local law enforcement agencies with establishing and expanding mental health field response capabilities. The primary goals of mental health field response are treatment, diversion, and reduced incarceration time. Grant proposals are required to include a plan for diversion from incarceration. The bill also requires the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a study on whether the program improves outcomes of interactions with persons experiencing behavioral health crises.

Commitment Hearings by Video
SSB 6124 allows for participation in commitment hearings by video. The term hearing, under the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA), is defined as any proceeding conducted in open court. At an ITA hearing, the petitioner, the respondent, any witnesses, and the presiding judicial officer may be present and participate either in person or by video, or by any equivalent technology, provided that all parties must be able to see, hear, and speak, and attorneys must be able to use exhibits or other materials. Witnesses may provide testimony telephonically. The court determines if all parties are required to participate in the hearing in person rather than by video. The court may consider if the individuals alleged mental illness affects their ability to perceive or participate by video. The respondent’s counsel shall be in the same location as their client unless otherwise requested by the respondent or their counsel.

OTHER ISSUES

Secure Medicine Return
ESHB 1047 passed the full Senate by a unanimous vote, 49-0, and final passage in the House was by a vote of 84-12. Washington is the first state in the nation to adopt a Secure Medicine Return program that will be available to every resident of the state. This bill requires manufacturers that sell drugs into Washington state to operate and pay for a drug take-back program to collect and dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs from residential sources. Counties that currently have secure medicine return programs can continue to run their own programs for 12 months after an approved statewide program begins operating, but are preempted at the end of the 12-month period.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Program (Advanced Degree Health Professions)
E2SHB 2143 adds advanced degrees (graduate and professional degrees – service obligation required) in health professions “needed in service obligation areas” to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, a public-private partnership to fund scholarships in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.