O’Ban: Legislature needs to work with governor to prioritize mental health care in Washington state

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Inslee’s behavioral health priorities media availability.

“I have been urging my colleagues and the governor to think of behavioral health policy and funding in the upcoming session as the next ‘McCleary’-level priority for the Legislature. It appears that the governor is taking behavioral health seriously and we look forward to working closely with his team to increase community mental health and addiction services and expand the behavioral health workforce. However, just as important as increasing the rates we pay providers, and incentivizing more individuals to pursue a rewarding career in behavioral health, we need policy that creates innovative, regional solutions.  The time for top-down, exclusively state- run facilities is over.

“If we are to build new facilities and expand forensic services on the Western State Hospital campus in my district, we must have assurances that patients will not be disproportionately released into Pierce County. We need a truly regional approach, where the continuum of care is based locally, and so patients are returned to their communities.

“I look forward to working with the governor and fellow legislators on expanding treatment options for all patients who truly need them, including appropriate housing with the proper support and services.”