Robinson bill calls for permanent funding for public health

A bill to establish a permanent funding source for public health services was heard today in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Sponsored by Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), SB 5149 would direct much-needed funding to the state’s Foundational Public Health Services Account.

“The crucial work of our public health professionals has been woefully underfunded for years, and the coronavirus pandemic makes this clear,” said Robinson. “This common-sense policy would finally establish a permanent, reliable funding source for the important work our public health districts do in our communities to help Washingtonians stay healthy.”

SB 5149 would require that health carriers, Medicaid managed care organizations, and third-party administrators with over 50 covered lives be assessed $3.25 per member per month. The assessment would generate $143 million for fiscal year 2024 and $200 million for fiscal year 2025 and beyond.

The revenue from the assessment would help fund foundational health services. These include communicable disease control, chronic disease and injury prevention, maternal child family health, access to clinical care, environmental public health and vital records. Together, these elements make up the critical and unique public safety role that the public health system has to protect and improve the health of families and communities.

“Passing this policy now will make us far better prepared to respond to the next public health crisis later,” Robinson said. “It would equip public health professionals with the resources they need to help our communities respond and rebuild.”

If SB 5149 is scheduled for executive action and voted out of the Senate Health & Long Term Care committee, it will next be heard in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. Today’s public hearing in the Senate Health and Long Term Care committee can be viewed here.