Legislators advance mental health plan, debate privatization

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A proposal for a statewide network of community mental health facilities advanced on a bipartisan vote amid questions over whether they should be publicly operated.

The bill, one of a pair of linked measures that seeks to implement plans first proposed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, would respond to the state’s mental health crisis by transferring treatment capacity for civilly committed patients from two mental hospitals to a network of smaller regional facilities.

But while lawmakers from both parties have broadly embraced the idea, Republicans and Democrats said before Friday’s vote that who would run the facilities remains an open question.

Legislators on the Health Care and Wellness Committee approved the measure unanimously.