2018 Legislative Session Wrap-up


Gov. Inslee signs SB 6452, to create a single referral line for families and providers seeking access to mental health care.

Amber Ulvenes
WCAAP Legislative Liaison


Though fast and furious, the 2018 legislative session yielded movement toward meaningful long-term change. Most notably, nearly $14 million was appropriated for increased pediatric Medicaid rates for E&M codes and vaccines. This figure represents moving the new floor for these codes to at least 75% of Medicare for fiscal year 2019. It is the first step toward our goal of reaching 100% of Medicare.  Yes, it is an ambitious goal, but over time we have seen more and more legislators “get it.” It’s finally being noticed that insufficient payment has created a crisis for kids’ access to care.

Creation of an enhanced Partnership Access Line was another terrific success of the 2018. To have a policy idea conceived, turned into law, and funded in one session is not the norm. The new law creates a single referral line for families to access timely mental health care for children covered by Medicaid, as well as provider consultation for new parents with depression. Additionally, funding for another child psychiatry fellow slot was secured, and the Children’s Mental Health Workgroup was reauthorized and will continue its work on new projects.

It’s disappointing that neither raising the legal tobacco-purchase age nor our gun safety priorities become law this year, but they both advanced further than they ever have.

Gov. Inslee signs HB 2779, March 22, 2018. Relating to improving access to mental health services for children and youth.

Many of you spoke with your legislators before and during the session, and your stories made an enormous impact on the chapter’s success. I am blown away by the energy and determination shown by the chapter membership to take time out of busy schedules to reach out. Your voice is respected and admired, and it amplifies powerfully among our legislative leaders in Olympia. I am honored to represent you.