Behavioral Health Legislation in Pierce County
At its last Council meeting of 2020, the Pierce County Council made a commitment to increase behavioral health services in the county by approving a 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax increase. Collections began July 1, 2021 and Council committed nearly $27 million in behavioral health and therapeutic courts funding in the adopted 2022-2023 Biennial Budget.
In May 2022, more than $20 million in funding was allocated to organizations offering programs focused on substance abuse disorder and mental health treatments. Funding for these programs followed recommendations outlined in the county's Behavioral Health Improvement Plan, developed by the county's Behavioral Health Advisory Board.
Past Legislative Action
Ordinance 2020-138s, outlines Council's commitment to funding behavioral health programs in the county through the sales tax collection. It includes proposal of a pilot program to create the first-ever Affordable Care Organization in the state. This pilot program would allow for local engagement, ownership and governance, along with empowering Pierce County to build a better healthcare system.
With adoption, Council took action to protect Pierce County taxpayers by requiring the development of a strategic plan for behavioral health response, including the requirement for a performance audit review, a date for when the 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax collection will end and a data platform to show where the money is being spent efficiently and effectively with measurable results.
Earlier in 2020, Council adopted resolution R2020-20, which requested the Regional System of Care Committee deliver a Strategic Plan for Behavioral Health System Improvements to Council to inform future behavioral health tax expenditures and specified Council’s intent to act on an ordinance imposing a Behavioral Health Tax no later than Dec. 31, 2020. It was through this direction that the Regional System of Care Committee came up with the Affordable Care Organization pilot program proposal.
In 2016 Council recognized the great amount of work done within the County and by other organizations to address the complex issues surrounding behavioral health. To ensure Council heard a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, a series of public meetings were held. These meetings provided an opportunity for people to respond to the HSRI report and to share their organization's body of work.
Behavioral health remains a key issue facing Pierce County residents. The Pierce County Council hired Human Services Research Institute (HRSI) to prepare a report that: