News

Update on public health restructure legislation


Public health

Both the Washington State Senate and House of Repre­sen­ta­tives released their budget proposals in late March – and both provided signif­i­cant new funding for Founda­tional Public Health Services.

  • $150 million for Founda­tional Public Health Services in the Senate budget
  • $100 million for Founda­tional Public Health Services in the House budget

WSNA and the Washington State Medical Associ­a­tion issued the following joint state­ment to budget leader­ship on March 28.

Senator Rolfes, Repre­sen­ta­tive Ormsby, Senator Robinson, and Repre­sen­ta­tive Macri,

Thank you for the signif­i­cant invest­ment in Founda­tional Public Health Services included in both the Senate and House budget proposals. The pandemic has made clear the dire need for deepening our invest­ments in Founda­tional Public Health Services, as well as the need to address the harmful, persis­tent inequities in health access and awareness.

Over the last year, our public health and health provider commu­ni­ties have responded urgently and skill­fully to manage the COVID-19 pandemic – despite decades of shrinking funding that left many local health juris­dic­tions ill-prepared to manage a pandemic of such propor­tions. Our experi­ence of the past year has made clear that we must do more to ensure we are adequately prepared for the next health emergency. The pandemic has also laid bare persis­tent health inequities that impact the lives of our BIPOC communities.

To that end, we urge you to include new and ongoing invest­ments in Founda­tional Public Health Services in the final budget, at the $150 million level that was included in the Senate budget.

For 20 years, the Washington State Medical Associ­a­tion and Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion have advocated for a stable, dedicated, long-term funding source for public health. The 30,000 health care providers we collec­tively repre­sent rely on a strong public health system; that was clearer than ever when COVID-19 threat­ened to quickly overwhelm our health care system.

This is a defining moment, and our state must learn from this crisis. Your invest­ments in Founda­tional Public Health Services will help trans­form our public health system to prevent and respond to health emergen­cies and to work better for every Washington resident.

We appre­ciate the work you have done this session to spotlight the impor­tance of Washington’s public health commu­nity. Please know our state’s nurses and physi­cians fully support signif­i­cant, long-term funding for Founda­tional Public Health Services – our future depends on it.

Sincerely,

Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN
Presi­dent
Washington State Nurses Association

Nathan Schlicher, MD, JD, MBA
Presi­dent
Washington State Medical Association

We will continue to keep you updated on both HB 1152 and FPHS funding in the budgets as session continues.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Muhm, WSNA Director of Public Affairs, at jmuhm@wsna.org.