While public health has been the focus in the news because of the Coronavirus outbreak, it is important to remember that public health works beyond just outbreaks.  Several critical public health functions and issues were funded in this Supplemental Budget, furthering support for long-term health outcomes that keep Washingtonians safe and healthy.

Foundational Public Health Services. Rebuilding our public health system is critical to protecting our communities. The Legislature fulfilled our back-fill request, ensuring the 2019 budget appropriation was made whole, with an additional $3 million of General Fund State provided beginning in fiscal year 2020. This funding will continue to fill critical gaps in governmental public health infrastructure and capacity in communicable disease control, environmental public health, and administration.

Group B Water Systems. This funding will continue local programs that regulate 13,400 systems across the state. Local programs can offer more flexibility in approving and regulating Group B systems, enriching economic opportunity in rural Washington. While initially not in the Governor’s, House, or Senate supplemental budget proposals, we are pleased that it was included in the final budget. $492,000 State General Fund, one-time funding.

Preventing Suicide. Suicide is a growing public health issue in our state. Data clearly shows that many populations are experiencing higher rates of suicide including youth, agriculture workers, and veterans. Funding is provided for the implementation of ESHB 2411, which requires advanced training for mental health professionals, as well as additional funding to implement prevention strategies recommended by the State Suicide Prevention Taskforce, including a pilot program aimed at the agriculture industry. $2 million, State General Fund.

Adverse Childhood Experiences. Funding is provided to implement the passage of SB 6191. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are a collection of life experience that are associated with poor health and economic outcomes. SB 6191 requires the Health Care Authority to incorporate questions related to ACEs into the Washington Health Youth Survey from the substance abuse and prevention block grant. $200,000 State General Fund.

Post-partum Coverage. Healthy moms and babies are a cornerstone of public health. By increasing Medicaid coverage from 60 days to one year (SB 6128), new mothers have improved access to medical care. Access to care is an important part of improving healthy birth outcomes for baby as well as reducing maternal mortality rates. Funding is provided to enhance administrative support; $142,000, State General Fund.