Motion calls for County, community stakeholders to examine and recommend plan to incorporate, enhance and fund current health and human service program
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved a motion that seeks to ensure the health and human services needs of the County’s underserved populations are met. The adopted motion calls on the County and human service providers to develop a plan for an accountable and integrated delivery of social safety net services in King County.
“With so many people in need throughout King County, it is critical that we make sure that the human services infrastructure is stable and accessible to everyone,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, prime sponsor of the motion. “The economy has taken its toll on many communities and it’s time we evaluate the health and human services system as a whole to ensure that support is adequately provided and the system is sufficiently funded.”
“Unfortunately, due to the economic crisis and its impact on revenues, we are seeing a lot of unmet needs of people who live in King County,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “We need to evaluate what the need is and how we deliver services so that in the end we can find the means and resources to address the full need of our residents.”
“Human services provide tools for struggling King County residents to live more productive lives. The ad-hoc funding structure of the safety net does not serve our residents well,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, the Council’s Budget Chair and chair of the King County Board of Health. “Today’s vote will begin the work to create a system that better serves both those in need and tax payers.”
The County’s health and human services are supported by federal and state funds and by the citizens of the County through various levies. Because of the different funding streams, service gaps can occur and those in need of services can slip between the cracks.
“Providing for the health and human service needs of King County residents is a critical function of King County government, but we’ve been severely challenged by an ongoing budget crisis,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “Revenue shortfalls have plagued King County for at least a decade, but this initiative will allow us to plan for how to effectively reach those most in need despite our budget constraints.”
“Due to the economic recession, we have had to make very difficult budget cuts with huge impacts, including to the delivery of human services. This reduced budget allowed us to provide a safety net only for some of the most needy,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee Chair. “A better-coordinated system of providing and funding human services will improve prevention, reduce costs, support self-sustainability and help alleviate human suffering.”
“In these times, we need agencies and organizations to work together,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. The process we adopted today will help identify efficient ways to provide the best possible service.”
Today’s vote calls for a plan that specifies the vision and goals of an accountable and integrated health and human services system. The Executive is also required to include options for financing the system in the report.
“This action commences King County’s response to federal health reform, enabling us to improve outcomes, better coordinate care, and reduce avoidable costs,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By using a coordinated system of care, we can integrate human services and supports to better treat the whole person.”
This motion builds on initial work by the County and providers to incorporate health and human services as the Affordable Care Act are implemented.
“Moving forward, our goal is to keep costs down while increasing coordination and integration across a variety of health and human services,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.
“As the former director of an emergency services office, I understand the importance of health and human services in our community, and I am pleased we are moving forward to create a plan to make sure help will be available for individuals who are in need in our community,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, a co-sponsor of the motion.
The plan is required to describe system coordination and strategies across a variety of health and human services including:
• Clinical health services, including primary care
• Health promotion and community-based prevention
• Community development and place-based programs
• Mental illness and chemical dependency, including recovery oriented systems
• Domestic violence and sexual assault survivor
• Developmental disabilities
The motion specifies that the panel convened to complete the work includes representatives from a number of stakeholder groups:
• health and human services
• prevention and public health
• geographic sub-regions of the county
• and local and national experts in system transformation
The motion calls for the panel to describe how such a system would work within the current health and human services framework, strategic investments within the system and how to measure the effectiveness of the system.