Need for behavioral health services anticipated to grow during COVID-19 pandemic; HCA secures funding to significantly expand services

Camp Murray, WA — The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) has secured more than $4 million in federal funding to respond to increased behavioral health service needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a time of great stress, uncertainty and isolation, and we must ensure that the well-being of Washingtonians is addressed. That includes making sure they can get the mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment they need,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “These new resources will help meet the needs of residents as we all navigate this unprecedented, challenging time.”

“As Washington residents grapple with the stress and uncertainties of this time, we need to be sure there is an adequate support system to meet their needs and help them cope,” HCA Director Sue Birch said. “These grants will create and contribute to services to help our families, friends and neighbors during these times.”

The grants will help ensure Washington residents have access to mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment:

  • A $2.2 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency. HCA will roll out a program called Washington Listens that helps reach people who are affected by the stress of the outbreak.
    • The statewide program will relieve stress on behavioral health crisis networks by giving people an outlet for their current stressors and providing referrals to services. The grant will fund a support line and 120 counselors and team leaders with regional partners, including:
      • Community Integrated Health Services in Great Rivers
      • Crisis Connections
      • Colville Tribe
      • Samish Indian Nation
      • Swinomish Tribe
      • Suquamish Tribe
      • Frontier Behavioral Health in Spokane
      • Okanogan Behavioral Health Care in North Central
      • American Indian Community Center (AICC)
      • Squaxin Island TribeThe federal CCP grant has supported other states in the wake of crises (for example, the Louisiana Spirit program after Hurricane Katrina).
  • A $2 million emergency behavioral health treatment grant through SAMHSA that increases substance use disorder and mental health treatment for individuals who do not have health care coverage or whose coverage does not adequately support their treatment needs.
    • The funding will allow HCA to:
      • Contract with regional entities called behavioral health administrative service organizations (BH-ASOs) to expand treatment access.
      • Contract with the King County BH-ASO to provide behavioral health services to health care providers impacted by COVID-19.
      • Contract with the King County BH-ASO to provide recovery support services to individuals with Behavioral Health Conditions who are isolated due to COVID-19.  

About the Washington State Health Care Authority

The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) is committed to whole-person care, integrating physical health and behavioral health services for better results and healthier residents.

HCA purchases health care for more than 2.5 million Washington residents through Apple Health (Medicaid), the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program, and the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program. As the largest health care purchaser in the state, we lead the effort to transform health care, helping ensure Washington residents have access to better health and better care at a lower cost.