Governor signs Chopp bill to support more behavioral health students

OLYMPIA – Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 1504 into law to expand the behavioral health workforce. The bill builds on the 2019 Workforce Education Investment Act, what has been called the “best in the nation” free college tuition program.

“Tens of thousands of people across the state are suffering from behavioral health and substance use disorders, and they need our compassionate care, ” said Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle). “Now, with this expansion, we can build new pathways to broaden our behavioral health workforce, encourage more private sector investment, and help neighbors in need by training the people who want to serve their community.”

HB 1504 makes four major changes to expand behavioral health workforce. First, it creates more opportunity for behavioral health providers in training to get necessary supervision hours by creating a pilot program with incentive pay for people who provide supervision at behavioral health sites. Second, the bill modifies the health professional loan repayment program to prioritize a portion of funding for providers from demographically underrepresented communities. Third, it creates a grant program for mental health and substance use disorder providers to train and mentor clinicians serving youth and children. Finally, it modifies the program to allow for more investments in advanced degree scholarships and workforce development.

“When I led the way on enacting the Workforce Education Investment Act, I knew  it would show us just how important it is to ensure that quality workforce training and higher education is available to everyone, and I am proud that House Bill 1504 is on its way to expand support services that are urgently needed,” said Chopp.