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Council accepts plan for integrated health and human service programs

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The Metropolitan King County Council today accepted a plan for accountable and integrated health and human services in King County. The plan, called for by the Council in 2012, has the following as its primary goal: “By 2020, the people of King County will experience significant gains in health and well-being because our community worked collectively to make the shift from a costly, crisis-oriented response to health and social problems, to one that focuses on prevention, embraces recovery, and eliminates disparities.”

“We, in King County, are committed to opportunity and good health for all,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, the prime sponsor of the original motion calling for the plan. “Our plan for health and human services delivery in King County furthers that commitment, and ensures that tax payer dollars are invested effectively.”

“Our plan calls for King County to join with other funders and stakeholders to invest in prevention, recovery, and elimination of disparities,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who detailed specific actions identified by the Council in his proposed Health and Human Services Transformation Plan. “Together we can make a stronger collective impact than any one of us could accomplish alone.”

“Thank you to everyone who spent countless hours on taking the first steps in transforming our system of delivering health and human services to our King County residents,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “While the transformation, especially in light of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, may take time, we acknowledge that in order to meet the current and future needs, King County must still look for stable funding for these services.”

Last November, the Council adopted a motion calling on the County Executive and human service providers to develop a plan for an accountable and integrated delivery of social safety net services in King County. The motion called for a plan that specifies the vision and goals of an accountable and integrated health and human services system. Today’s action by the Council accepted the report submitted by the panel.

“It is imperative that King County deliver services to those in need, in a collaborative way that emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness of service,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “This plan is a first step in reaching those goals and setting up an infrastructure to be more proactive in solving peoples’ problems.”

“An innovative, seamless, and results-oriented approach to health and social services is the goal of the adopted Health and Human Services Transformation Plan,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “This approach will enable us to stretch our limited health and human services dollars to their maximum potential and provide better outcomes for the people we serve.”

The proposed plan, which reflects the County’s Strategic Plan Health and Human Potential Goal, was created after hearing from national experts from Oregon and Vermont, local experts and representatives from the state, along with a 30-member stakeholder panel.

It emphasizes the shift from a costly sick care/crisis response orientation in health and human services, to one that is oriented to the population’s health and well-being. By placing a greater focus on preventing health and social problems, positive quality of life and financial outcomes will be achieved. Achieving these outcomes result in lower costs for governments.

“I would like to thank the panel for all their hard work in crafting these important recommendations,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.

“We are changing the way health and human services work in King County,” said Councilmember Jane Hague. “We have gone from talking about money, to talking about outcomes first and then money.  We are now poised to address funding needs based on a plan developed with key members of the health and human services community. This is a plan to address outcomes for the holistic well-being of individuals, families and the community.”

The report presents four recommendations: 

  • Invest in outcomes—Rather than funding a specific type of program or service, invest in strategies that are expected to produce outcomes, using both contract and compact accountability tools.
  • Leverage opportunities provided under the Affordable Care Act—Strategically integrate the resources, tools, principles, and payment reform strategies of the ACA into current local, state, and federal funding resources.
  • Protect existing resources—Protect existing resources from further reductions due to budget shortfalls and continue to advocate for the stability of the current system.
  • Seek New Revenue and New Revenue Tools While Increasing Effectiveness—Seek support for new resources to help fund transformation efforts and improve capacity county-wide to provide necessary services and infrastructure that will contribute to the intended outcomes. 

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov  and type in “2013-0304”

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