AIHC Legislative Results 2020

AIHC Legislative Results 2020

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Legislative Updates

Together we can educate, influence, and help the legislature partner with us to strengthen and redesign our Indian Health system of care into one that reflects our indigenous values.

Legislative Day 2020!

The 2020 Washington State Legislative Session was the second ever AIHC Tribal and Urban Indian Health Program Legislative Day, held on January 14, 2020. Representatives from Tribes, both UIHP and AIHC staff and consultants visited 68 legislators to ask them to support our Legislative Priorities for 2020! 

Click for more information on the three budget-neutral bills AIHC drafted for the 2020 legislative session.

Click for more information about the legislative process.

American Indian Health Commission Legislative Priorities 2020

Indian Behavioral Health Act SB 6259Passed the Senate and the House!


A budget neutral bill. This legislation addresses serious access issues for AI/AN seeking help through the WA State’s Behavioral Crisis Care System which has contributed to the high rates of suicide and addiction among AI/AN. The bill redirects management of crisis services to allow tribes to more efficiently care for their patients. It includes Indian health care providers among entities eligible for state behavioral health crisis funds including services provided by tribal designated crisis responder services and workforce development for the newly created behavioral aide profession. Establishing behavioral health aides will leverage additional federal funds to the state through the federal Medicaid assistance percentage (100% FMAP). Access to crisis funds will significantly reduce the burden on the state’s crisis coordination system since tribes will be serving thousands of WA state citizens. Bill language is based upon recommendations from the Tribal Evaluation Treatment Facilities Report to the Legislature and was reviewed and edited by the Governor’s Indian Health Advisory Council in preparation for this session.


Click for more information in Suicide among American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington.


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Taskforce did not make it into the bill  


The rate for missing American Indian and Alaska Native women in Washington State is 4.2 times higher than that for white women. Tribal and urban Indian communities have called for the formation of a community-led statewide taskforce to continue Washington State’s work to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A statewide taskforce would take the next step to determine legislative versus administrative fixes to address challenges in data collection and reporting practices, tribal-state jurisdiction, and direct prevention and response services for American Indian and Alaska Native people impacted by gender-based violence.

Click for more information on the MMIWG Taskforce.


Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention: Funded!

$1.3 million passed in the budget- including $75k for YSP Summit.

BACKGROUND: Support of the Governor’s budget of $2,046,000 to reduce suicide- of which $1,014,000 for SFY21 is to support tribes in developing and implementing culturally appropriate, evidence-based programs and tribal best practices to support youth and adults, and to support the annual Intertribal Youth Suicide Prevention Summit.  

Click for more information in Suicide among American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington.


Fund Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) Budget Request: Funded!

BACKGROUND: A strong governmental public health system is essential to keep Washington healthy and safe. Last year, the FPHS policy bill passed, establishing funding to these services across the state.  Of the $296 million needed to fully fund FPHS, only $22 million was funded. Part of those funds were expected to come from the vapor tax which is $10.5 million less than the State expected to receive.  We support the State legislature in fulfilling the 2019 budget amount. 


Add Tribal Representation on the Emergency Management Council: Passed the House and all the committees in the Senate and didn’t get brought to the floor. EMC decided to include Tribal Representation without legislation!

BACKGROUND: Washington State has a government-to-government relationship with Tribal Governments and has designated Tribal Governments as one of the four parts of the Public Health System. To honor these relationships, tribal representation should be added to the Washington State Emergency Management Council. This amendment is budget neutral. 

Dental Health Aid Therapist: Did not get enough votes to be pulled to the House floor.

BACKGROUND: This bill will expand the ability of dental therapists (DHAT) to provide services across the state focusing on providing access to Medicaid clients.

Click for more information about this bill.


Other Legislation AIHC supports:

Universal Healthcare– Need to ensure AI/AN population is exempt with ability to opt in and there is limited or zero cost sharing.

Medicaid Postpartum extension- Improving maternal infant health outcomes by extending Medicaid postpartum coverage for up to twelve months after the last day of pregnancy. Passed – extension to 12 months with Federal match.

We will continue to update this information at or contact Vicki Lowe at

To view 2019’s Legislative Priorities and Results, click here.


Questions can be directed to:

Vicki Lowe, Executive Director, AIHC or 360-460-3580

Maria Gardipee Ness, Legislative Liaison, AIHC or 360-742-2532

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