Dufault bill would help open mental health facility in Toppenish

State Rep. Jeremie Dufault, R-Selah, is sponsoring a bill that would allow a Toppenish hospital to open a 10-bed psychiatric care facility later this year.

Last year, the state authorized the facility to open at the beginning of 2019. However, its opening has been delayed because the default state-reimbursement rate for a new facility would force Astria Toppenish Hospital to operate at a loss for up to two years until the rate could be adjusted to match the actual cost of maintaining the facility.

Dufault's measure, House Bill 1534, would immediately increase the current reimbursement rate – $711.55 per day – to $1,050 per day, which is the median rate being paid to other rural hospitals providing psychiatric care in Washington.

“This is a down payment on solving the mental health crisis in rural Washington,” Dufault said. “Many of our toughest challenges, including homelessness, addiction and violence, result from a failure to address mental health issues. We need to focus on root causes, not symptoms.”

The bill has bipartisan support and was voted out of the House Appropriations Committee Thursday with a unanimous (33-0) vote. Dufault expects the bill to pass both chambers and become effective later this year.

“The mental health crisis is on everyone's radar this session. It is important that those in our community needing mental health services are able to receive treatment close to home and near their support networks,” Dufault said. “I'm grateful to my colleagues for supporting the people of my district and approving the implementation of these improved mental health services in Toppenish.”

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov