Advocacy Update: Interim Work

Amber Ulvenes
WCAAP Legislative Liaison

The legislature is now in interim mode. Legislators, agencies and stakeholders now are working to implement policies passed during the 2018 session.  In addition, they are doing new research in advance of the 2019 session. Your team has been busy engaging in this work on several fronts. First, we’ve been spending time with the Health Care Authority (HCA) to help them discern how to spend the $13.8 million appropriated for increased pediatric Medicaid rates for E&M codes and vaccines. The crux is that the budget proviso forbids the agency from exceeding the appropriated level, while Medicaid functions as an entitlement program. The estimated date for care to be reimbursed at the new higher level remains October 1, 2018. (See above article to learn more.)

On the mental health front, we have been actively involved in implementing the PAL Plus access line. Specifically, the HCA is charged with convening a work group to make alternative funding model recommendations for PAL. We also continue to work with the HCA on SB 5779, passed in 2017, to increase therapy codes to enable group practices to include a behavioral health provider on their team. This is separate from work underway to make the Collaborative Care Model functional in the pediatric primary care setting.

Finally, work continues on the Chapter’s public health priorities, Tobacco 21 and firearm safety. Several legislators recently met with chapter member firearm safety researchers to better understand how to choose the most effective policies to make our communities safer.