Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Health Care & Wellness Committee

ESSB 5153

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning transfers of clients between regional support networks.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections (originally sponsored by Senators Kohl-Welles, Carrell, Darneille, Pearson and Schlicher).

Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill

  • Requires the Department of Social and Health Services (Department) to adopt rules and procedures for transferring clients between Regional Support Networks which designate the Department as the entity for resolving disputes.

Hearing Date: 3/14/13

Staff: Chris Blake (786-7392).


The Department of Social and Health Services (Department) is the designated state mental health authority. The Department contracts with Regional Support Networks (RSNs) to oversee the delivery of mental health services for adults and children who suffer from mental illness or severe emotional disturbance. An RSN may be a county, group of counties, or a nonprofit or for-profit entity. There are currently 11 RSNs in Washington. Ten of these are either single or multi-county authorities and there is one private entity operating as an RSN in Pierce County. The RSNs contract with local providers to provide an array of mental health services, monitor the activities of local providers, and oversee the distribution of funds under the state managed care plan.

Through a federal waiver, Washington has implemented a managed care system for both outpatient and inpatient mental health services under the Medicaid program. Under this system, the Department provides capitated payments to RSNs to provide mental health services to clients within their geographic regions and the RSNs assume the financial risk for providing the care to those clients.

Regional Support Networks also receive grants to provide services to non-Medicaid clients. These funds are not an entitlement and are only provided according to available resources. The distribution of non-Medicaid funding for RSNs is based primarily on population.

Summary of Bill:

The Department of Social and Health Services (Department) must adopt rules and procedures for the transfer of clients between Regional Support Networks. The rules and procedures must establish the Department as the authority for resolving any disputes. The rules and procedures must be proposed by December 1, 2013, and be incorporated into Regional Support Network contracts once they are finalized. The Department must submit a copy of the proposed rules and procedures to the chairs of the relevant committees of the Legislature once they have been completed.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.