Gov. Inslee Forms Sub-Cabinet on Mental Health and Substance Abuse

By The Chronicle

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive on Friday creating a sub-cabinet to consider mental health and opioid drug abuse that will involve the state Health Care Authority, the Department of Social and Health Services, the state Department of Health and other Washington agencies. 

“To address the overall health of Washingtonians, I am establishing a cabinet-level leadership structure to further develop and implement our strategic plans to better enable the administration to act more quickly and respond to changes and needed reforms,” Inslee’s directive states. “To that end, I direct the formation of a health sub-cabinet … with an immediate focus on behavioral health.”

The first tasks assigned to the sub-cabinet will be to develop a strategic plan, advance behavioral health integration and to form an interlocal leadership structure.

Inslee’s directive noted that he plans to ask the Legislature again next year to pass legislation to “better align state agency programs” regarding oversight of the state’s community behavioral health system and a state law requiring Washington to fully integrate Medicaid purchasing for physical and mental health and substance abuse by January 2020. 

“We have made progress to improve the state psychiatric hospitals and reform the mental and behavioral health systems,” the directive states. “We are working to ensure our state psychiatric hospitals are resourced to provide the medical and psychiatric services that individuals with significant behavioral health problems require, and we have begun major reforms to our mental health civil involuntary system to treat people in their communities. Yet, we have more to accomplish.”