2016 Legislative Summary
On March 29—after 19 days in Special Session, the Legislature finally approved a 2016 Supplemental Operating Budget! The final budget includes funding for mental health—focusing on transitional support and staffing for Western State Hospital. The budget also includes compensating parts of the state that had to battle significant forest fires this past summer. Overall, it was a modest supplemental budget and legislators expect to deal with significant issues, such as fully funding education, in the next legislative session.
The community health centers fared well in the final budget. While not all of our priorities were funded, we protected the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program and defended against moving the Medicaid Blind and Disabled population from managed care to fee-for-service. We were disappointed that the Legislature did not provide financial incentives to regions that are willing and able to integrate behavioral health in primary care well before the state-mandated deadline of 2020. As the state works towards achieving this goal over the next few years, we anticipate there will be other opportunities to support regions that want to get a jump start.
Through interim, we will be monitoring, if not participating, in a number of workgroups and task forces that were created this session. These will be important opportunities to ensure that the community health center voice is heard when addressing issues ranging from children’s mental health to telemedicine. To read more about the work the community health centers engaged in during this session, please see our 2016 Legislative Summary.
Previous Legislative Summaries