Pierce County to transition to integrated physical and behavioral healthcare


PIERCE COUNTY — No later than January 1, 2020, Pierce County residents in the Medicaid system will receive both physical and behavioral care through a state mandated initiative called Integration 2020.  Through this whole-person approach, physical and behavioral healthcare will be delivered via one system through an integrated network of providers, offering better coordinated care for patients and more seamless access to the services they need.

The initiative is part of Healthier Washington and brings together the payment and delivery of physical and behavioral health services for people enrolled in Medicaid, through managed care.

“It’s critical that we shape the integration in a way that meets the needs of Pierce County citizens both now and in the future,” said Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive.

Pierce County is negotiating with the Washington state Health Care Authority to enter into a binding letter of intent to become a “mid-adopter,” which would lead to the integration of the health systems by January 2019.  Clark and Skamania counties have already transitioned to fully integrated care.  Counties across the state have until January 1, 2020 to complete the integration.

The Pierce County integration work will be led by Steve O’Ban, a state Senator and current chair of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee.  O’Ban will be joining the County’s Human Services Department on May 22, 2017 as Special Assistant for Behavioral Health. Other members of the County’s Mid-Adopter Implementation Team include Connie Ladenburg, Pierce County Councilmember; Peter Ansara, Director of Human Services; Carol Mitchell, Director of Justice Services; Teri Card, President and CEO, Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare, and Alisha Fehrenbacher, Executive Director of the Accountable Communities of Health.

“Because of the State mandate, we are moving into a new way of doing business in regard to health care,” said Connie Ladenburg.  “Now is the time for us to explore and determine how best to achieve positive outcomes for the residents in Pierce County.”

O’Ban is an attorney and was engaged in the private practice of law for over 25 years before he began serving in the Washington State Senate in 2013. He also volunteers for and serves as the Chair of the Board of Sacred Road, a charitable organization serving the Yakama Native Americans.

“Optum is committed to supporting Pierce County as it moves to an integrated system of care, including through ensuring a smooth transition for the community and providers, and using existing services to enhance whole-person care,” said Lauren Mihajlov, director of communication for Optum.

Information about the Health Care Authority and Integration 2020 may be found here.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Paula Morris says:

    Say what now? This is very obscure info. What exactly does it mean to “integrate” mental and physical care? What will it look like? Does that mean that Behavioral Health Centers will close down and that General Hospitals will take psych patients and mix them with physically ill ones–all to save money?! They’ve been trying to deny mental health care for years now! This sounds fishy.

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