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Reviewing goals, costs, and effectiveness: Council approves legislation updating Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Plans


Setting requirements for a comprehensive review and potential modification of the MIDD strategies


In 2007, the Metropolitan King County Council approved legislation authorizing the increase of the sales tax with the proceeds focused on treatment services for people with mental illness and chemical dependency issues. The Council today approved legislation that calls for a review of the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) standards in light of the changing landscape of mental health and substance abuse services.

“While the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency program has provided vital services to many in critical need, a lot has changed since we began this work, including our understanding of how we can best link people to the mental health and chemical dependency care they need,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, the prime sponsor of the legislation. “This is our opportunity to take advantage of the new landscape and use what we’ve learned over the past eight years to make King County’s efforts even more effective.”

“We must continue to maximize the effectiveness of these funds so that we can keep our communities safe, reduce criminal justice costs, and help stabilize those who need help,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “A comprehensive review of the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency tax funds will help us in achieving the desired results of reducing the number of mentally ill and chemically dependent people in jail and diverting them to treatment.”

Since the adoption of the MIDD tax, there have been several significant changes in health care:

• the U.S. Affordable Care Act,
• reduced state funding for mental health and substance abuse,
• and the August 2014 Washington State Supreme Court decision on psychiatric boarding.

With the potential renewal of the MIDD tax in 2016, the ordinance adopted by the council would set requirements for a comprehensive review and potential modification of the MIDD strategies described in the council-adopted MIDD Implementation Plan. The implementation plan is the detailed roadmap of the strategies and programs that are receiving MIDD funds. The ordinance calls for a retrospective analysis of the MIDD strategies and programs and policy goals as well as a prospective plan for recommended new and revised strategies and programs.

“The MIDD has five main goals. We have collected data for over seven years to be sure these policies are met. We have seen a very positive impact to peoples’ lives and a very real impact on our criminal justice services,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “The oversight committee has 30 members who regularly monitor the outcomes and data. This study will now evaluate which strategies need to be prioritized or added. This will greatly help as we consider the MIDD renewal in 2016.”

“I welcome the comprehensive review of MIDD standards this legislation provides,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “Providing effective funding for such issues as substance abuse and chemical dependency are very important and this review will help to educate us on what works and what does not.”

The ordinance requires significant detailed information, including recommendations on potential changes to the MIDD policy goals, processes and procedures. The proposed legislation specifically calls for the materials to be developed with input from the MIDD Oversight Committee and community stakeholders.

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