Senate passes Holy bill to boost behavioral-health services in underserved areas

A bill introduced by 6th Legislative District Sen. Jeff Holy that aims to make behavioral-health services more available in underserved areas of Washington was approved today by the Senate 48-1.

Senate Bill 5728 would require that the state’s portion of property forfeited under the Controlled Substances Act be deposited in the Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program Account.

“Money from drug forfeitures can be pretty substantial, so it makes sense to put this money toward a worthy cause,” said Holy, R-Cheney. “The Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program is a rigorous program that tries to promote access to behavioral-health professional services in underserved areas, of which there are several in eastern Washington. It would be better to use recovered drug-forfeiture money in this way instead of putting it in the state general fund, which is already experiencing a very large surplus.”

The Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program was established in 2019 to address shortages of behavioral-health professionals in rural and underserved urban communities. The program provides financial support to eligible licensed health professionals through loan repayment and conditional scholarships.

SB 5728, which was requested by the Office of the State Treasurer, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.