We are pleased to report that Seattle Children’s and its allies came away from the 2022 Washington state legislative session with a number of important achievements.

Governor Jay Inslee signed two top Seattle Children’s priorities into law:

  1. SB 5736 requires coverage for partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient mental health services for youth insured by Medicaid. This law significantly expands kids’ access to these vital services.
  2. HB 1890 creates a statewide child/youth behavioral health strategic plan that will help us continue to identify and address gaps in mental health care for kids.

In addition to passage of these two bills the legislature approved a supplemental operating budget with a long list of new investments strongly supported by Seattle Children’s including:

  • Additional funding for Seattle Children’s mental health referral assistance team to help meet spiking demand
  • Additional funding for Seattle Children’s education department (school) and commitment from the state to explore sustainable revisions to the future funding formula
  • More Children’s Long-Term Inpatient Program (CLIP) beds (increases from 37 beds currently to 72 beds)
  • Investments to start a 32-bed short-term residential crisis stabilization program for youth
  • A 7% bump in community behavioral health rates under Medicaid
  • A 10–20% rate bump for home health, private duty and medically intensive group home provider rates

Other noteworthy bills were also approved by the legislature.  SB 5741 creates a “Patches Pal” specialty license plate that will generate funds to support pediatric cancer research at Seattle Children’s. This was a guild-led initiative over the past several years. HB 1744 facilitates the Seattle Cancer Care restructure. HB 1268 adds Washington state to the psychologist interstate licensure compact, an initiative that will improve access to behavioral health services across state lines.​

Bills opposed by Seattle Children’s that were successfully defeated include HB 1868, which would have imposed rigid hospital staffing standards, and HB 1862, which would have severely restricted the charging of hospital facility fees, costing Seattle Children’s up to $113 million annually.

We thank the entire legislature for their tremendous support for kids this session. We are especially thankful for the contributions of retiring Senator David Frockt, a strident champion for child and adolescent behavioral health, whose collaboration and advocacy over multiple sessions led to the successful passage of SB 5736.

We are also grateful to all the healthcare providers who supported Seattle Children’s advocacy in Olympia this year. Your voices have a powerful impact in shaping policies that improve care for kids.

For additional details on this year’s victories for children’s health in Olympia, read WCAAP’s 2022 legislative session recap: Advocacy Update: 2022 Session Ends on a High Note! – WCAAP – Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.