Bill to help rural areas deliver mental health services signed into law
Legislation to help rural areas more efficiently and effectively deliver certain mental health and chemical dependency services to patients was signed into law recently by Gov. Jay Inslee.
House Bill 1727, sponsored by Reps. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax and Shelly Short, R-Addy, will allow nursing assistants to work for certain licensed mental health service providers.
Under current law, nursing assistants may participate in delivering nursing-related services in health care facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, hospice care facilities, home health care agencies or hospices agencies. The new law adds licensed service providers under the Community Mental Health Services Act to this list.
“Allowing nursing assistants to work in certain mental health facilities, like chemical dependency treatment, will help our rural areas deliver services more efficiently,” said Schmick, who is the ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “Nursing assistants can take weight, pulse and blood pressure readings and other duties, freeing up registered nurses to perform other duties.”
Schmick worked with Rep. Short to get the bill hearings in the House and Senate and to work the bill through the lengthy legislative process. Between the two House members, their legislative districts comprise huge swaths of rural land in Eastern Washington.
“We're seeing much greater use of telemedicine in rural areas, especially in mental health and chemical dependency services,” said Short. “The idea for this bill was brought to us by a constituent who saw a better, more efficient way of delivering services for our patients back home. With the continued pressure on our rural hospitals and rural health services, we need to do everything we can do to help streamline things and make it cost effective for folks living in rural areas to receive the treatments they need.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications