Governor signs two bills sponsored by Rep. Joe Schmick into law

9th District lawmaker is House Republican lead on health-care issues

Two health-care related bills prime sponsored by Rep. Joe Schmick were signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday. The 9th District lawmaker is the House Republican lead on health-care issues.

The first measure, House Bill 1547, suspends certificate of need requirements through June 30, 2019, for hospitals and establishments that add new psychiatric beds and entities that construct psychiatric hospitals of no more than 16 beds.

“Despite the addition of more psychiatric beds, we still have a shortage of these beds in many communities across our state. This bill will allow community hospitals the opportunity, if they choose, to be able to treat patients with behavioral health needs locally,” said Schmick, R-Colfax. “For people who experience a behavioral issue and need treatment, I think it’s important to be as close to their support network as possible. This measure will hopefully allow patients to stay closer to friends and family as opposed to state hospitals. It will also alleviate some of the pressure we are seeing at these state facilities.”

House Bill 1547 contains an emergency clause and goes into effect immediately.

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 1548, will require the state Department of Social and Health Services to establish standards for approving curricula for facility-based caregivers serving persons with behavioral health needs and for geriatric behavioral health workers. It will allow completion of the behavioral health curriculum to substitute for the experience requirement for becoming a geriatric behavioral health worker at a nursing home, and remove the requirement that a geriatric behavioral health worker have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work.

“We have a staffing crisis in our behavioral health fields. The purpose of this legislation is to expand professional opportunities and eliminate barriers for people who have a passion and want to work in these important health-care fields,” said Schmick, ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “As a state, we want more people interested in and to promote careers in mental health. In the long-term, this will lead to better health care and outcomes for patients.”

The 2017 regular legislative session ended on April 23. The Legislature is currently in a 30-day special session to finalize the state operating and capital budgets.


Washington State House Republican Communications