News Article Details

Bill to open mental health center in Toppenish wins committee approval

Yakima Herald-Republic - 2/16/2019

Feb. 16--OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A bill that would allow a Toppenish hospital to open a 15-bed psychiatric care facility has been voted out of committee in the Washington House of Representatives and its sponsor expects it to pass both chambers.

Last year, the state authorized the facility to open at the beginning of 2019, according to a news release from Rep. Jeremie Dufault, a Selah Republican. However, its opening has been delayed because the default state-reimbursement rate for a new facility would force Astria Toppenish Hospital to operate at a loss for up to two years until the rate could be adjusted to match the actual cost of maintaining the facility.

House Bill 1534 would immediately increase the current reimbursement rate -- $711.55 per day -- to $1,050 per day, which is the median rate being paid to other rural hospitals providing psychiatric care in Washington.

The bill has bipartisan support and was voted out of the House Appropriations Committee Thursday on a 33-0 vote, Dufault said.

"This is a down payment on solving the mental health crisis in rural Washington," Dufault said in his news release. "Many of our toughest challenges, including homelessness, addiction and violence, result from a failure to address mental health issues. We need to focus on root causes, not symptoms."

Dufault, Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, and Chris Corry, R-Yakima, are among the bill's sponsors.

The mental health crisis is on everyone's radar this session, Dufault said.

"It is important that those in our community needing mental health services are able to receive treatment close to home and near their support networks," he said. "I'm grateful to my colleagues for supporting the people of my district and approving the implementation of these improved mental health services in Toppenish."

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