At the close of the state legislative session, the team at Valley View Health Center is grateful for state leaders’ investments to our health care system. The last two years have been especially difficult for health care workers, including community health centers like Valley View Health Center. We are especially grateful to our representatives to Olympia in helping us rebuild from COVID’s financial and workforce impacts.
From the onset of the pandemic, community health centers across the nation took on a new focus within our communities. At Valley View we conducted community-wide testing, vaccine education and outreach, assisted Lewis County with urgent social services outreach and began offering telemedicine to medical and behavioral health patients. All of this was accomplished while working diligently to meet the needs of our established patients.
We know these efforts were effective in protecting our communities and helping local hospitals, but they’ve taken a toll on our finances and resources. Cost increases, state-ordered emergency shutdowns and workforce challenges hit us hard. We’re grateful for federal emergency funding that helped us keep clinic doors open, but our state’s payment models were hurting health centers unintentionally. Some community health centers were facing huge payment shortages, while others were being asked to return funding when their crisis response affected their ability to meet certain metrics.
That’s why the Senate, with leadership from Sen. John Braun, worked to ensure financial stability for community health centers, with much-needed funding to help us recover. The final state budget includes other important healthcare investments, such as increased funding for the Washington Health Corps Loan Repayment Program to attract professionals to work in underserved communities and funding for new community health programs.
A new supportive housing benefit for Medicaid enrollees who have medical risk factors and experience barriers to getting stable housing was another important healthcare achievement this session, addressing homelessness and its effects on health.
These health care investments will benefit the whole community. I’m grateful the Legislature understands this connection and has made investments that will ensure our communities’ health into the future.